The CFPB, which was created after the financial crisis and began operation in 2011, is the latest federal agency to reject requests using a “Glomar response,” named after the Glomar Explorer, a Cold War-era ship used by intelligence officials to retrieve sunken Soviet submarines.
A Glomar rejection of a FOIA request for information is a rejection based on the premise that the agency saying “No” cannot either confirm or deny that the requested records even are in its possession. This is an intelligence-related claim; yet the the requests are consumer-related information, and the CFPB is reputed to be a consumer-oriented Federal government entity.
With consumer-related FOIA requests, there are no intelligence questions involved. Of course, the bureaucrats of the CFPB know this.
Sam Gilford, a CFPB spokesman, had this on the matter:
Disclosing whether the bureau possesses records about a pending or potential investigation would effectively disclose whether it has in fact investigated the institution [which could hamper an investigation].
This is disingenuous. If an “investigation” is pending, it’s under consideration for being initiated. If an “investigation” is merely potential, it’s just a thought in a CFPB agent’s mind. There is no investigation extant in either case, and so there can be no hampering of one.
The CFPB is simply stonewalling.