|Journalists say the U.S. Navy refuses to release documents about a 1964auto accident in which then-Lt. John McCain was involved, and injured,along with another man, outside the main gate of the Norfolk Navy Base.The Navy allegedly located the documents but refused to release them tothe National Security News Service, because "the Navy contended thatthe records could only have historical value and could not become abreaking news story."
The news service says it is working ona story about McCain for Vanity Fair magazine, "including anexamination of his conduct in Norfolk and Portsmouth in the 1960s.Despite Senator McCain's prior 23 years of service as a Naval officer,the Navy has only released general summaries of his military career,"the federal FOIA complaint states.
It continues: "Plaintiffsand Vanity Fair have developed from first-hand sources informationindicating that Lt. McCain was involved in an automobile accident onHampton Boulevard outside the main gate of the Naval Base at Norfolk,VA in July 1964. Plaintiffs' investigation has disclosed thatresponding civilian law enforcement officers recall the accident, thatanother person was injured, and that a Naval officer dispatched amessenger to take a change of clothing to Lt. McCain at PortsmouthNaval Hospital. Plaintiffs have also obtained documents showing thatlaw enforcement officers were ordered back to the accident scene toretrieve personal physical effects. The Navy has never publiclyacknowledged this information.
"The fact of assignment toPortsmouth Naval Hospital, as to any Navy hospital, is a public recordnot protected by FOIA law or regulations." Nonetheless, plaintiffs say,the Navy refuses to release the documents, which it has located, on theabsurd claim that they "could only have historical value and could notbecome a breaking news story."
The news service and itsreporter Christopher Law want to see "releasable Navy records listingassignments of Navy personnel to Portsmouth Naval Hospital in 1964."
They are represented by Mark Nagle with Troutman Sanders.