A Herald request for the Army to unredact pertinent information in the June 2, 2016, training accident that claimed the lives of eight soldiers and a U.S. Military Academy at West Point cadet in flood-swollen Owl Creek on Fort Hood could take until April 2019 to process, the Army says.
The initial request was made in June 2016 to give the public information on the circumstances surrounding the vehicle rollover in the flood-swollen creek on post. The Army’s report, released more than a year later, redacted nearly 14 pages under the label “rationale for conclusion of analysis.”
All five findings and five sets of recommendations were also covered over.
The Herald had requested the report under the Freedom of Information Act to let the public know what happened and how further deaths could be prevented.
In August 2017, the Herald requested an unredacted version of the report, and that request was remanded to the Office of the Army General Counsel at the Pentagon for review.
Luke Moyer, assistant to the General Counsel, said in an April 16 email that the office processes appeals for the entire Army and bases which request is worked by when it was received.
“Your appeal is currently 61st in our regular queue, meaning we must respond to 60 other regular appeals before reaching your case,” Moyer said in the email. “I sincerely regret our delay. Please understand, however, that this office processes FOIA appeals for the entire Army.”
Moyer added that his office is currently working on appeals made in late 2016, so it could take up to a year before a response is available on whether the Army will unredact the pertinent information in the report.
In addition to covering over information available on the rollover accident in its main report, the Army also failed to give the public a copy of the Fort Hood unit’s report, known as an Army Regulation 15-6 investigation. The unit report had been given to deceased soldiers’ family members, who shared it with the Herald, which shared the information with the public.
The Army still hasn’t given the unit report to the Herald and public. The unit report left many questions unanswered that were not publicly answered in Army’s heavily redacted report released later.
According to Army Regulation 25-55, the Department of the Army Freedom of Information Act Program, the “public has a right to information concerning the activities of its Government.”
The regulation also states in Chapter 1, Section 3, that “Prompt responses to requests for information from news media representatives should be encouraged to eliminate the need for these requesters to invoke the provisions of the FOIA and thereby assist in providing timely information to the public.”