Judge Tells Homeland Security To Shut Up And Release Aaron Swartz's File

from the about-time dept

After Aaron Swartz's suicide, Kevin Poulsen filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Department of Homeland Security, asking for the Secret Service's file on Aaron Swartz, since it was the Secret Service that handled the bulk of the investigation. Aaron, himself, was a big user of the FOIA process, including retrieving his own FBI file concerning his earlier run-in with the authorities over downloading PACER material. So it seemed bizarre that the Secret Service denied Poulsen's request, "citing a FOIA exemption that covers sensitive law enforcement records that are part of an ongoing proceeding." Considering that the case was closed and Swartz was dead, that seemed like a ridiculous excuse.

Poulsen went through the official appeal process, which was ignored leading him to officially sue. In May, the government admitted that the law enforcement exemption no longer made sense, but then continued to do nothing about releasing the documents. However, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly (a former FISA Court judge, and a name associated with various other high profile cases over the years) has now ordered the government to begin releasing the documents it has held about Aaron.

DHS claims that just last week it found a new stack of documents, and that it needs time to go through them all. The judge gave them a deadline of August 5th, but said it needs to already start releasing the documents it has already reviewed.

Filed Under: aaron swartz, colleen kollar-kotelly, foia, homeland security, kevin poulsen, secret service

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 9 Jul 2013 @ 7:42am


    The FOIA process is not simply grabbing documents and sending copies indiscriminately

    No one argued otherwise.

    Federal agencies almost universally have a FOIA Office that is staffed by people well versed in law.

    Overworked people.

    They are generally mid-level civil servants who, when a FOIA request is received, send out a memo to the "world" asking agency groups to go through their files and identify any that appear to meet the types of files being requested

    Yes. But that is unrelated to what happened in this situation.

    Depending upon the scope of the request, action by the FOIA Office my run from only a few days to many, many months

    As I assume you well know, that's actually not what the law allows. The FOIA has a deadline on it -- a deadline that is almost never met. I recently had a FOIA request take nearly 8 months, and then they sent me something entirely different than I requested.

    But, again, that's got nothing to do with the situation above. You seem to be bitching about a post here for the sake of bitching and showing off that you think you have knowledge that people here don't have.

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