CIA Hit With Two New Lawsuits Over Its Hostile Response To Basic FOIA Requests
from the secret-agencies-don't-like-transparency dept
I guess it’s no surprise that the CIA would be institutionally against things like transparency and freedom of information. However, in the last couple weeks there have been two separate lawsuits filed by well known Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) activists over the CIA’s general bad behavior in response to FOIA requests. First up is Michael Morisy and Muckrock, who have sued over a variety of failures by the CIA to adequately respond to a long list of FOIA requests that really should not be problematic at all.
…the Central Intelligence Agency has a track record of holding itself apart from, and largely above, the Freedom of Information Act, consistently ignoring deadlines, refusing to work with requesters, and capriciously rejecting even routine requests for what should be clearly public information.
After listing out all of the FOIA requests that the CIA failed on that Muckrock is suing over, Morisy notes:
Additionally, we are suing against the CIA’s general practice of rejecting requests for email records which do not include the time frame, subject, and to and from fields, regardless of what other information is including to help narrow the request. This practice replaces the required functional test for whether or not a request reasonably describes the records sought with a per se test that automatically rejects any request for email records based on whether or not it includes all four pieces of information, virtually ensuring that vast amounts of CIA email records go unprocessed and unreleased.
Separately, two FOIA ninjas, Ryan Shapiro and Jason Leopold (both of whom have written about before, including the FBI declaring Shapiro a systematic problem for filing too many FOIA requests) have sued the CIA as well for its failure to respond to their FOIA requests concerning the CIA’s spying on the Senate Intelligence staffers investigating the CIA’s torture program.
“It’s time for the CIA and the rest of the US intelligence community to recognize transparency not as a threat, but rather as an essential component of viable democracy,” Shapiro said.
The FOIA request specifically was about communications between the Senate Intelligence Committee and the CIA which set up the terms under which the Senate investigators would have access to CIA documents, among other related documents. As with Muckrock, it appears that the CIA basically has just decided to ignore the request entirely.
Yes, the CIA lives in a world of secrecy, but it’s supposed to follow the law, and that includes living under FOIA transparency rules. It seems to be ignoring those at every turn, so hopefully these two lawsuits will begin to force the CIA to actually obey the law.