Thursday, March 7, 2013

U.S. mum on Cuban youth program

Privileged or confidential
The State Department has refused to provide details of a nearly $600,000 program called "Mobilization Initiative for Youth Empowerment in Cuba."
Freedom House, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C., received $599,952 to carry out the program in 2009.
Records show the program was scheduled to run from March 19, 2009, to March 31, 2010.
I filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records related to the program in October 2011. The State Department responded in February 2013, releasing two documents in full and four with redactions - 12 pages, in all, which you can see here.
The department also withheld one document entirely, citing a FOIA exemption that states "trade secrets and commercial or financial information" is "privileged or confidential" and need not be released. See State Department's letter.
The six remaining documents provide few details on the Freedom House program. Officials redacted information on the program's purpose, scope of work and budget breakdown. Only one sentence about the program was left intact:
This 12-month Freedom House program seeks to encourage freedom of expression and freedom of association in Cuba.
The documents do not explain how Freedom House intended to mobilize youth in Cuba.

2 comments:

Moses said...

Tracey, you know as well as anybody that award documents are typically worthless when it comes to learning how Federal contract money is really spent. At best, after the fact audits will give some insight since they are usually backed up with receipts for expenditures. That said, where I am from, we call posts such as this a "hit piece" since you leave the reader to imagine the worst. Surely by now, this group will have filed a progress report. Chase that down if you are really interested in finding out what this group does.

Tracey Eaton said...

Moses,
Thanks for reading Along the Malecón. I don't know that the award documents are worthless because the State Department redacted information about the program.
I agree that audits could be a good source of information and I intend to request some of those reports - and more - the next time I file a round of FOIAs.
I have never said I am against democracy programs. I've only argued for greater transparency.
I don't consider what I wrote to be a "hit piece" at all. I am merely following up on a FOIA that I filed.
Tracey