CIA Sent FBI Agents After, Ended Career Of 19-Year Employee Over A FOIA Request For Historical Documents

from the open-and-transparent-retaliation dept

It wasn't even whistleblowing, although that too can destroy careers and lives. It was a FOIA request, made by someone who knew exactly which documents he wanted released.
His CIA career included assignments in Africa, Afghanistan and Iraq, but the most perilous posting for Jeffrey Scudder turned out to be a two-year stint in a sleepy office that looks after the agency’s historical files.

It was there that Scudder discovered a stack of articles, hundreds of histories of long-dormant conflicts and operations that he concluded were still being stored in secret years after they should have been shared with the public.

To get them released, Scudder submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act — a step that any citizen can take, but one that is highly unusual for a CIA employee. Four years later, the CIA has released some of those articles and withheld others. It also has forced Scudder out.
"Historical documents of long-dormant conflicts and operations." Scudder dared to ask for these documents, and the CIA cut him loose. It also sent another federal agency after him -- the FBI.
On Nov. 27, 2012, a stream of black cars pulled up in front of Scudder’s home in Ashburn, Va., at 6 a.m. FBI agents seized every computer in the house, including a laptop his daughter had brought home from college for Thanksgiving. They took cellphones, storage devices, DVDs, a Nintendo Game Boy and a journal kept by his wife, a physical therapist in the Loudoun County Schools.
To date, only his daughter has received her laptop back. Every other computer remains in the hands of the FBI, despite the fact that no charges were ever pressed and despite the fact that many of the documents Scudder asked for have been released by the CIA in the interim. More from his request list are due to be released in the near future.

The CIA avails itself of a wide array of FOIA exemptions, but its reluctance to publish historical documents is just baffling -- and is most likely a result of the agency's long-running adversarial relationship with transparency. It's been noted here before that the CIA has used the often-abused b(5) exemption to withhold documents over five decades old (dealing with the Bay of Pigs invasion), claiming that the release of the "sensitive" documents would "confuse the public."

Despite Scudder's efforts, the flow of historical CIA documents will only decrease in the future. The office charged with declassifying historical documents has been closed, deemed expendable by the agency in the face of budget cuts. This workload will be routed through the agency's FOIA office, creating even more incentive for the CIA to stonewall requests.

Scudder never did anything his superiors thought was wrong until after he attempted to free these historical documents. Everything the agency never took issue with during his previous 18 years of employment -- like personal call infractions and the possession of photos (taken by Scudder in his position as "official CIA photographer") deemed "classified" -- was suddenly yet another reason to force him out. It's been clear for a long time that the government doesn't care much for whistleblowers. It also seems to have something against transparency, even concerning documents of historical interest only.

Scudder did nothing criminal. He just did something the agency didn't like. And for that, he lost his job and clearance. So, it's not just whistleblowing that can get you destroyed. It's also holding the government to its own transparency standards -- something that isn't remotely criminal but is apparently completely unforgivable.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 11:34am

    "the release of the "sensitive" documents would "confuse the public." "

    This is exactly why documents should not be withheld.

     

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  2.  
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    PRMan, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 11:36am

    Sooo....

    He should sue for the government violating his freedom of speech?...

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 11:40am

    Re:

    We could respond to this with 'splain yo self' except that would mean their telling the public about the extreme, morally and legally questionable reasoning we had concocted to justify things in our warped power hungry minds.

     

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  4.  
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    RadioactiveSmurf (profile), Jul 7th, 2014 @ 11:43am

    Re: Sooo....

    or perhaps wrongful termination since he was clearly targeted and fired for following the law.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 11:44am

    "... deprived of ... property ... except by due process"

    This shows why the laws relating to seizure of property need to be tightened. Government agencies routinely abuse the government's limited legitimate interest in preservation of evidence as a way to deprive citizens of their property without adequate due process. Some of the items seized had no possibility to be evidence of a crime, and most of what was seized could have been returned within days without compromising a future case. Instead, we are almost two years later and they are still holding most of the property without showing any justification for it - not even the limited justification of claiming that they need originals for a criminal case in progress.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 11:45am

    My favorite part

    From the linked article:
    “The CIA does not retaliate or take any personnel action against employees for submitting [FOIA] requests or pursuing them in litigation,” said CIA spokesman Dean Boyd.

    Hahaha.

     

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  7.  
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    ThatFatMan (profile), Jul 7th, 2014 @ 11:47am

    Everything the agency never took issue with during his previous 18 years of employment -- like personal call infractions and the possession of photos (taken by Scudder in his position as "official CIA photographer") deemed "classified" -- was suddenly yet another reason to force him out

    Unfortunately this is S.O.P. for the government. The fine folks in "Employee Relations" are relentless and will let nothing stand in their way of administering justice. I can speak with some experience on the subject, I've been one of their victims. I can only imagine they are more unpleasant at the CIA to deal with.

     

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  8.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Jul 7th, 2014 @ 11:48am

    His crime was making a FOIA request wherein the government could not claim it had no matching documents.

     

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  9.  
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    alan turing, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 12:19pm

    third party

    ...that's whom he should have used.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Digger, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 12:34pm

    U.S. Alphabet agencies are terrorists

    The regimes in place since 9/11 have done very little to improve our nation's security, and treasonous levels of activity to render our Constitution null and void.

    At this point, we have little that we could legally do to call them account for their actions. They claim they are above the law, that the laws do not apply to them or their actions.

    What they do not understand is that they could not be more wrong.

    They are guilty of treason. They should all be detained, tried and convicted of treason, and since it's during a supposed period of war, there is only one punishment allowed to these traitors, execution.

    We could solve the nations debt by selling tickets to be on the firing squads to handle these criminals, these traitors, these treasonous bastards.

    Every member of the NSA, CIA, FBI, HSA, TSA, hell, even the Senate and House of Representatives are guilty of these crimes, let's not forget the traitors currently and formerly serving on the SCotUS, the Presidents, Vice Presidents, Attornies General - they are all equally guilty, either in their actions, or in failing to prevent the illegal actions of the people who did (and continue to) commit the treasonous actions.

    So many traitors running this country just to improve their wealth and subjugate those who grant them their power through inaction.

    Take Thomas Jefferson's words to heart. This cancerous / cankerous modern Government needs to be removed before the entire nation dies.

     

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  11.  
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    Roger Strong (profile), Jul 7th, 2014 @ 12:49pm

    He's a potential whistleblower. The worst kind of potential terrorist.

     

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  12.  
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    Michael, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 12:55pm

    Clearly, he was trying to exploit a loophole in the law preventing him from disseminating sensitive information. As we all know, if you explicitly work around a law, you are clearly just a criminal trying to exploit the system.

    He needs to be water-boarded in a duck pond.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    David, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 1:08pm

    Re:

    "the release of the "sensitive" documents would "confuse the public."


    "How are we different with regard to suspending large parts of our constitution both officially as well as covertly from Nazi Germany after the Entitlement Act?"

    "See, now you are confused. We should not have released those documents."

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 1:09pm

    Re:

    You misunderstand.

    If they release a bunch of sensitive documents, we will all be completely confused by them doing so. We will wonder if the documents are fake, if they are hiding much more important documents, or if there is something more sinister going on.

    This is for our protection - confusing us by suddenly becoming open and honest about what they are doing could cripple our entire economy while we all sit at the computer reading articles trying to figure out what happened.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: Sooo....

    following the law

    That clearly conflicts with his job objectives.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Michael, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 1:11pm

    Re: My favorite part

    That's totally true. Didn't you read? They sent the FBI to do it.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    David, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 1:13pm

    Re: My favorite part

    This groin just has a penchant for knees.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    David, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: My favorite part

    Ah yes. "Now that you are asking, let me further qualify my statement as you seem confused here: we don't break that particular law in some particular way (most likely one you never insinuated, but it would be a pity to waste a strawman) under this particular program in this particular department. Unless we need to do so for reasons of national security, but rest assured we wouldn't tell you."

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 1:28pm

    and it shows just what power it has as well, because i doubt if there will be any apology or compensation. everything will be swept under the carpet and forgotten, just as he will be expected to do.
    so much for 'looking after the security of the people!' more like ways to instill terror into your own citizens!

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    FM Hilton, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 1:45pm

    Rights and the Government

    Unfortunately, because the CIA is a quasi-military agency, they hold the same beliefs in private rights of the citizen that the US military does: none.

    Which means that if you even dare to use your freedoms to do any kind of research into your employer's history, you're going to be fired and prosecuted, even if you did nothing wrong.

    You do not have the right to question or investigate your employers' history or actions.

    Guess that goes with being employed by the government.

    You're charged with defending and protecting this country and the Constitution, but don't you dare use any of it!

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 1:57pm

    For the last month or so, there's been an article floating around from one of the 1%ers to his comrades about wealth inequity. He states that never has a country gone any other way than to pitchforks over this if it has not been resolved before that point is reached.

    I don't question his conclusion but tend to think it needs a match point to start it off. Things like this could well become that match point. The entire ignoring of the consistution by the government for it's own benefit while demanding it's citizens obey the same types of laws it is breaking. Given enough time, the consent to govern will be withdrawn by it's citizens, whether stated before hand or not.

    One can see this point approaching through the polls that reflect the belief by citizens that the government is doing it's job. Faith in it is rapidly being lost daily.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 4:53pm

    CIA/FBI are nothing to look up to anymore.

    They continue to show how they are defined as sociopaths with no concept of damage they due to others.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Someantimalwareguy, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 5:02pm

    Re:

    Good news! Every 2 years we have the opportunity to change that government. As someone in power has said at almost every public speech he has given: "Don't boo, vote..."

    Seems like good advice to me; especially now that, despite their very real and obsessive efforts to keep the public from knowing anything, they have utterly failed. Better yet, their efforts make it EASIER and far more likely for that information to see the light of day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Jacqueline saldana, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 5:41pm

    What about being ripped off of your right to your patented land

    What about Patents? Land Patents? I thought that they could not be taken from rightful LAND OWNERS? What about their responsibility to be a part of the Electoral College?
    California has so many crooked people that are greedy.
    From the gold diggers to the oil diggers they stole our families and tribal LANDS.
    They harass and belittle the natives of California. What really makes me sick is when I hear on a GAME SHOW "Who wants to be a Millionaire", Question was, What two states would the United States most likely want to see removed? Answer, Texas and California.
    Well probably after they despoiled and pillaged California!
    Then insult them with CASINOS!
    We were privileged Pioneers of California!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    DogBreath, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 6:47pm

    Re:

    So, the CIA thinks releasing "Historical Documents" would "Confuse the Public".

    I think the CIA has been watching way too much"Galaxy Quest".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    Padpaw (profile), Jul 7th, 2014 @ 7:21pm

    In the name of "national security" we decided citizens have no rights. because we say so.

    Until more citizens experience this things are not going to change because of the asinine attitude "it can't happen here"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 9:05pm

    This is sick. I feel so sorry for Scudder. :(

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 9:29pm

    Re:

    Insider Freedom.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 7th, 2014 @ 9:31pm

    This just goes to further show why massive collection of all data on Americans is an issue, even if you have "nothing to hide".
    Because the moment the government wants to take you down, suddenly all those minor infractions you've done throughout your life will come crashing down on you all at once with the weight of the government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 12:55am

    "to withhold documents over five decades old (dealing with the Bay of Pigs invasion), claiming that the release of the "sensitive" documents would "confuse the public." "

    Well, yes, it might.

    99.999% of America has no clue about the BOP. They also don't care that it was why John Kennedy was killed.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 8th, 2014 @ 3:24am

    To be fair the US are not the only country that behaves like that. For much less you'll lose your job or be transferred to the middle of nowhere here. It's an epidemic, people in power are out of control.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 4:03am

    Re:

    No they're not actually. The problem is that they're in control when they shouldn't be trusted to man the DMV desks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Mullvaden, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 10:59am

    Tinfoil Chapeau

    You would think they're afraid the public might find out some inconvenient truth, such as the fact there is a secret cabal within the CIA running it all, consisting of those with vested corporate interests, and it is they who assassinated JFK as part of their silent coup to take over the US government. All elections since then have been fixed, the residing president nothing more than a mouthpiece with no real power.

    There was once a time when I'd laugh at that kind of tinfoil-hattery and brush it off, but over the past five years or so it's beginning to look as if all the conspiracy theories floating around out there might not be so far off the mark after all. Makes me glad I finally stopped procrastinating about increasing my security (i.e. encrypt it all and do my best to hide lol).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 8th, 2014 @ 2:20pm

    Re: third party

    That was the first thought that went through my mind.

    WHY?

    I'm fairly sure he could have gotten any college or high school student to request them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    icon
    tqk (profile), Oct 1st, 2014 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re: third party

    You're a cruel SOB. Sucker some innocent kid into an FBI manufactured plot entrapment scheme? Isn't it bad enough that they'll never be able to pay off their student loans?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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