Want the Flyover Photos? FOIA ‘Em.

This is just plain annoying.

CBS Radio’s White House correspondent Mark Knoller, a prolific twitterer, passes on word that the Obama administration has declined, without explanation, to release the images taken during last week’s Manhattan flyover photo-op by the presidential plane.

“Look for Fredom of Info filings,” Knoller tips in twitterese. “We’ll get ‘em. You’ll see,” Knoller assures.

Let it be said that getting the photos that illustrate this just-a-week-old-but-yet-already-moldy-one-day-story should not be a big priority for our White House press corps.

But filing a Freedom of Information Act request doesn’t take too much time, and Knoller’s probably right that doing so will net the goods. I can’t see what exemptions the Air Force, or any other agency involved in the photos, would be able to claim against a request for a nice posed photo—like this old one taken over Mount Rushmore.

And that’s what makes the White House’s obstinacy so frustrating. They’re using the intrinsic delays of FOIA—which are outrageous enough—to help push a minor story off the news burner. It’s a petty bit of message control that comes at the expense of both transparency and the administration’s openness rhetoric.

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Clint Hendler is the managing editor of Mother Jones, and a former deputy editor of CJR.