EPIC Sues CIA For Release Of Senate Spying Report
from the FREEDOM-THROUGH-LITIGATION dept
The CIA’s spying on Senate staff members during the compilation of the “Torture Report” (last seen delayed until late October) provoked some righteous (but hypocritical) indignation from political figures who were otherwise fans of government surveillance of American citizens. Dianne Feinstein’s dismay may have been genuine, but it was also completely tone-deaf.
CIA director John Brennan said no spying occurred while also admitting some spying had occurred. Further details revealed by an Inspector General’s investigation noted that spying continued after Brennan finally told everyone to knock it off, using a classified “hacking tool” to peer into Senate staffers’ email accounts.
Nothing further has been forthcoming about the subject. The DOJ said it wouldn’t investigate the issue and calls for Brennan’s resignation have been ignored. The Office of the Inspector General obviously has a deeper read on the tactics used and who was involved, but all the CIA’s been willing to part with is a one-page summary. The one-page document points at impropriety but doesn’t fill in the blanks.
“That doesn’t give you any information about what actually happened, how purposeful this was, how high-level these people were,” EPIC associate director Ginger McCall told The Hill. “Were these high-level agency officials versus just minions down at the bottom?”
“There’s not a lot of information in this and it certainly doesn’t say anything about what they’re doing to remedy the problem or how these people are being dealt with,” she added. “That’s what we’re interested in finding out.”
EPIC is now suing the CIA over its refusal to respond to a FOIA request for the full report. The lawsuit [pdf link] notes that the group has “exhausted all remedies,” which is certainly true if the “responding agency” doesn’t bother to respond. EPIC is also asking for several more stipulations to be granted along with the release of the requested document.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays that this Court:
A. Order Defendant to conduct a reasonable search for all responsive records;
B. Order Defendant to promptly disclose to EPIC responsive records;
C. Order Defendant to produce a Vaughn Index identifying any document or portion of a document withheld, stating the statutory exemption claimed, and explaining how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption;
D. Order Defendant to grant EPIC news media status;
E. Order Defendant to grant EPIC a fee waiver;
F. Order Defendant to grant EPIC expedited processing;
G. Award Plaintiff its costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred in this action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(E) (2013); and
H. Grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.
It may seem like EPIC is jumping the gun by pulling the trigger* on an FOIA lawsuit a mere two months after requesting the documents. But look at it this way: it could have waited for six months… or a year… and still have been ignored or denied. Leading with a lawsuit is nothing more than playing the FOIA game efficiently. If the responding agency doesn’t bother to respond within the statutory deadlines, you may as fire off a lawsuit to get the process moving.