DOJ Lies To 'FOIA Terrorist' Jason Leopold; Claim They Have No Documents On Aaron Swartz

from the buncha-liars dept

Back in 2013, not long after Aaron Swartz’s tragic suicide, reporter Kevin Poulsen (who had also worked with Swartz on what became SecureDrop, the system for whistleblowers to anonymously submit documents to journalists) submitted a Freedom of Information Act with the Department of Homeland Security about what info it had on Swartz. There were some legal fights about it, but eventually DHS was forced to release the documents, which now reside at a site set up by Poulsen called SwartzFiles.com. These documents revealed things like the government’s weird infatuation with the Guerrilla Open Access Manifesto, that many believe was written (at least in part) by Swartz (there’s at least some dispute over this).

Meanwhile, Jason Leopold, who uses FOIA requests so frequently and so effectively that the DOJ once labeled him a “FOIA Terrorist,” submitted a similar request with the Justice Department — specifically targeting the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts — which is the office out of which Swartz’s case was prosecuted. Obviously, they have plenty of such documents. In fact, in Poulsen’s DHS Swartz files there are emails between DHS and DOJ folks. But, an astounding three years and 11 days after Leopold submitted his FOIA request, the DOJ has told him it has no responsive documents.

That’s obviously bullshit. There’s simply no way that the office that was prosecuting Swartz has no responsive documents on the case.

And, of course, perhaps the worst FOIA requester to give a bogus answer to is Jason Leopold. Not only is he one of the most persistent FOIA filers, he also is absolutely willing to file FOIA lawsuits when the government tries to deny him what he wants. As a recent profile noted, he’s filed more FOIA lawsuits by himself than almost all other news organizations combined. And it seems quite likely that the DOJ just convinced him to file another such lawsuit.

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Comments on “DOJ Lies To 'FOIA Terrorist' Jason Leopold; Claim They Have No Documents On Aaron Swartz”

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36 Comments
HegemonicDistortion says:

Re: Re:

Or, as in at least one state (IL I think?), it’s actually punishable by prison. Maybe a 30 day sentence for certain blatant FOIA “failures” would encourage them to get it right. I’m not one for overly-criminalizing things, but I believe that offenses against government, against the people, like corruption and tampering and such, should carry strong criminal penalties. When people undermine the operation of government, they undermine its legitimacy.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m not one for overly-criminalizing things …

Me neither, but like you for corruption perpetrated by thugs in government whose salaries we’re paying, I’m happy to make an exception. It’s only fair. They may have forgotten the definition of the word justice. It’s our obligation to remind them we haven’t.

There are few things I know of that disgust me more than what happened to Aaron. That was truly assholes on parade. If you’ve never seen it, check “The Internet’s Own Boy” DVD out of your local library. I recommend it highly.

And send Jason and the EFF some money if you have it please. ๐Ÿ™‚ I wish I could.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Is this an admission...

…that terrorist has now become a meaningless term of derision? Like liberal and gay?

I wonder why I’m imagining monkeys flinging poo. This guy makes them look like geniuses. Consider the source. If he’s using the word terrorist to describe a guy filing lawsuits like any lawyer (or capable laymen), what’s that say about him?

Creeping senility, perhaps? Dropped on his head a few times too many as a baby? Lazy minded as fuck? I think I’ll go with that last one, though it could be all of them.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Nicely Worded... so probably true

… but — in the off-site storage warehouse …

Nah. They pulled all of that stuff up as soon as it was requested. It’s sitting in a pile in a bookcase in his office. However, he’s waiting until you divine the magic incantation before he’ll respond with them. Or, maybe you’ll die of old age first. That’d work too.

Anonymous Coward says:

Semantics at play...

…A search for records located in the United States Attorney’s Office(s) for the District of Massachusetts has revealed no responsive records regarding the above subject…

Because the responsive records are in a different office or location! Else why did it take that long to reply other than they were relocating the responsive records so as to truthfully send this response.

mcinsand (profile) says:

Re: a matter of timing

>Because the responsive records are in a different office
>>or location!

The documents might well have been in the State Attorney’s Office when the request came in. However, once the office became aware of interest in the contents of the boxes or filing cabinets, said containers were disappeared to another location.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Semantics at play...

I was thinking that the answer is very narrow too. I have a feeling that the records are not at that office, possible moved to off site storage or moved to another location during the follow up investigation.

It’s quite possible that the documents were never in that particular office as well. The investigation could have been started in New York office, as an example.

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Semantics at play...

You are so predisposed to dump on me that you can’t even read. I am not defending them. I am only pointing out that a record search for that narrow of a top limited to a single office is likely to get few results. Do you honestly think they keep the files at that same location after the case is closed?

The only asshat here is you, jumping to conclusions. It’s okay, I accept your apology.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Semantics at play...

The only asshat here is you, jumping to conclusions.

FWIW, I agree with you here. I didn’t read your comment at all like they did.

Socrates had a lot of powerful enemies too for saying a lot of things others questioned. Or maybe he was just too annoying, whatever, asking difficult, embarrassing questions.

Don’t go drinking any hemlock. When they pulled that trick on Aristotle, he just “got outta Dodge” instead. ๐Ÿ™‚ Smart guy.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Semantics at play...

It’s quite possible that the documents were never in that particular office as well.

Sure, and isn’t this starting to look like Douglas Adams’ H2G2? Do they really want us to equate them with Vogons? I’m happy to. I just wonder why they’d want us to.

This is hardly a difficult question that they should have trouble handling. It’s pretty transparently obvious that they’re going out of their way to intentionally misunderstand the problem so they don’t need to comply with our right to get our information out of them! This was world news at the time. It isn’t “Who killed JFK” stuff, ffs.

They, by their deluded actions, caused a really terrific guy to kill himself because he saw his life being maliciously destroyed by them and refused their right to do that to anyone including him. Have they no shame?!?

Welcome to martyrdom, Aaron. ๐Ÿ˜› I wish these jerks would find a bridge they could jump from into a river. The world would be a slightly better place without their like in it.

The really annoying part of this for me is, who put these jerks in charge of this stuff? Yeah, we did. They make me feel as guilty as they are.

Anonymous Coward says:

My Hero

If Jason needs an assistant to help him file and manage all of these requests and lawsuits, and also happens to read this site, I would love to work with him. I’m certain the financial penalties alone for these illegal acts and outright lies should ensure everyone who had anything to do with creating the false paperwork responses should be out of a job and censored from working for government for life… no wait this kind of thing is encouraged right from the top of this “most transparent administration” that assures us that we should not be afraid of people finding out what we have done, if we have nothing to hide. The deck is stacked against the very people that supposedly enable this country to exist. The elections are coming up right now. 3/4 of everyone eligible isn’t even going to bother to vote, so your vote actually carries the weight of the other 3 people who didn’t bother to cast their useless ballet. The polling people have agendas that are clear in the way the questions are phrased. Don’t think of your vote being wasted on someone who is destined to lose, think of it as giving a hard number to how people feel about each candidates values and stated goals. If we had 100% turnout and the guy I voted for had less than a million votes, that still tells the world that my candidate speaks for that % of the people. We have given up our freedom for the impossible promise of safety. We now have neither. It is never too late to start changing things to ensure our grandchildren will have opportunities that we can’t even imagine. Every Foia request that is falsely answered as these were, shows how far this country is from what is claimed on paper.
We can’t fund the future on IOU’s.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: My Hero

If Jason needs an assistant to help him file and manage all of these requests and lawsuits, and also happens to read this site, I would love to work with him.

Bravo. I hope he can use the help.

As for voting, I’ve given up on the likelihood of finding anyone worth voting for. However, I can still use my vote to vote against the worst.

Bwa, ha, ha, haaa! ๐Ÿ™‚ There’s a lot to be said for “I didn’t vote for that jerk!” when everyone else is complaining about them. They don’t get to blame them on me.

JustShutUpAndObey says:

Why are judges so tolerant of perjury?

I realize perjury is the lubricant that makes the wheels of the “justice” system (a lie in itself), go around. Judges know the police testifying in front of them lie to them every day and they do nothing about it. Every plea bargain represents perjury: The judge asks the defendant: “do you make this plea freely and without having been promised anything?” – the defendant is coached to lie.
Still, a normal person would get tired of living in a world so hostile to truth.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Why are judges so tolerant of perjury?

Still, a normal person would get tired of living in a world so hostile to truth.

I suspect that’s Aaron in a nutshell.

As for judges putting up with crap, read Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable, and watch Inspector Jaubert closely. My memory may be faulty (it was a while ago) but I believe when he finally was forced to admit that Jean Valjean was an innocent man, his only option was suicide.

I can recommend the Liam Neeson DVD version, but the book’s well worth reading too.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: The timing is interesting

… but those were automatically purged after three years and don’t exist anymore …

Ah, the NYPD default excuse. Nope, I’m afraid that falls under egregious incompetence. Any IT specialist in this day and age who can’t manage a backup system shouldn’t be given the job in the first place, and whoever hired them was either incompetent or corrupt. Adjoining cells for them both! Time out kids. Think about what you failed to do. Take your time. You can learn an important lesson from this and be a better person for it on the other side. Tough love!

tqk (profile) says:

Re: not a believer

I don’t believe it was a suicide. Maybe someone made it look like a suicide.

Apparently, you don’t “get” probability theory. Here’s your first lesson:

It is theoretically possible, via Brownian Motion, that all the molecules in a glass of beer will line up and choose to move in the same direction at once, and your beer will all leap out of the glass. The probability that this might actually happen (though admittedly possible) is vanishingly small, or the more cluefull would say is non-existent, as in won’t happen.

Another thing you ought to read up on is Occum’s Razor.

On the other hand, you may have better inside information of what Kim Jong Un has been up to than I, but I’ll go with “vanishingly small” likelihood on that too (not to mention other just as unlikely conspiracy theories crazies like you out there might imagine). I think Aaron’s prosecutors did a very evil thing, but this is reality, not Hollwierd. The CIA might do shit like that all the time, but I doubt the CIA had any sticks in this fire. Of course, I could be wrong about that. I don’t claim omniscience.

Havin’ fun yet? ๐Ÿ™‚

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