"This agency neither confirms nor denies the existence of such records"

In a spectacular episode for history buffs and transparency nuts alike, Radiolab posted an episode yesterday that explores the Cold War roots of the Glomar "neither confirm nor deny" response to FOIA requests. Here are some of the most notable and bizarre Glomar responses that MuckRock users have received.

Whether a document exists is a yes or no question. But for federal agencies, particularly ones that handle sensitive information, that question can get a bit more metaphysical. Via the "Glomar" response, officials supply a cliff-hanging “neither confirm nor deny” semi-answer in cases when they deem the existence or non-existence of documents to be a classified matter. A Glomar might seem like an unsatisfying rejection, but it can shed considerable light on the agencies themselves.

Based on excerpts from the NSA FOIA handbook, Glomar is the government's option to “neither confirm or deny the existence of responsive records if that confirmation itself will reveal a classified fact...”

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