FBI Says It Has 487 Pages Of James Comey Talking Points, Refuses To Release Any Of Them

from the 'but-here's-a-CD-full-of-nothing-for-you' dept

Well, we can already see what government agency will be the next recipient of a Jason Leopold FOIA lawsuit.

Leopold had requested FBI Director James Comey’s talking points for a variety of subjects, including “going dark,” the terrorist attacks in Paris, the “Ferguson Effect,” and encryption. The FBI responded with two things, both of which add up to nothing.

The letter Leopold received noted that the FBI had found 487 pages responsive to his request. Of those, the agency will be releasing a grand total of zero pages. All 487 have been withheld under FOIA exemptions b(5) through b(7)(E).

Despite not releasing a single page, the FBI still utilized some taxpayer pocket change to mail Leopold a CD containing nothing more than its rejection. Leopold notes he’ll be using it as a coaster.

The exemptions cited are bogus. “Talking points” aren’t deliberative documents, interagency memos, or documents containing sensitive personal information [b(5), b(6)]. Neither are they documents that might expose law enforcement sources or investigative techniques [b7(D) and 7(E)].

They are exactly what the name says they are: points to be used when discussing these issues in Congressional hearings or during press conferences. They are indicative of the public stances the FBI takes on certain issues. There’s nothing secret about them, or at least there shouldn’t be.

But the FBI is treating Comey’s talking points like they’re confidential documents that could result in the exposure of its sources and techniques. If Comey’s talking points do actually include this information, that’s pretty irresponsible. These are used to make public statements and they certainly shouldn’t include sensitive information not meant for the public domain.

And there’s 487 pages of them, which means Comey has had plenty to talk about. The eventual release of these documents post-lawsuit should be entertaining and informative. Considering Comey has taken public stances privately opposed by other FBI officials and has made of habit of bypassing agency norms when delivering statements, it would be interesting to see if his past statements have periodically veered away from the agency’s prepared talking points.

This response is a typical one for the FBI, which frequently returns an upraised middle finger to the requester in lieu of the documents requested. It’s just how it opens FOIA negotiations. From there, requesters are expected to begin the appeals process or, in the case of FOIA enthusiast Jason Leopold, file yet another FOIA lawsuit that’s 90% boilerplate and 10% “this is SPECIFICALLY how [US Government Agency X] has dicked me around this time.”

Filed Under: , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “FBI Says It Has 487 Pages Of James Comey Talking Points, Refuses To Release Any Of Them”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
AEIO_ (profile) says:

I've got all of your talking points right here.

I’ve just snuck into the FBI and have found them all. My God, these are all so insightful I can’t believe it — Just read three of them and you’re as intelligent as Congress, all of them and forget the FBI, you might as well BE the NSA.

Number One: People who actively use encryption are more likely to …

Oh, excuse me, someone’s at the door. Be right back. “Hel

That One Guy (profile) says:

"Quick, hide the eggs!"

I can’t help but wonder, given the ‘brilliance’ Comey has displayed on several occasions if the reason for stonewalling here(beyond the widespread blatant contempt towards the public on display in pretty much the entire USG) is to save face and avoid releasing talking points that even they know will make them look all kinds of stupid.

Near five-hundred pages of text is a lot of eggs that they might worry could be covering their collective faces if they release the documents, as people dig through and spot the falsehoods, screwups and so on.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...