Legal Issues

by Tim Cushing


Filed Under:
cia, foia, senate, spying

Companies:
epic



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.

*Shoutout to Thomas Friedman, yo!


Reader Comments

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2014 @ 3:51pm

    It's too bad we (collectively the public) can't sue the entire US Government for gross criminal misconduct, gross negligence, gross corruption, crimes against humanity, etc etc etc etc etc.

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

    • identicon
      Barb Aque, 11 Oct 2014 @ 4:45pm

      Response to: Anonymous Coward on Oct 6th, 2014 @ 3:51pm

      The lawsuit filed re: FOIA is premature at best. EPIC has not exhausted avenues for its request under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.. A few months a request pending? That is not long..unless case set for trial. Did court hear or rule on Motions to Compel or review objections, have in camera hearing or review a privileged log? I did not read complaint as most likelyit would be dismissed as EPIC could argue this issue before presiding judge. This IMHO .. is strictly procedural ..on this issue.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Oct 2014 @ 8:03pm

    So it is openly admitted then that he government is breaking laws and committing crimes, and yet people are apathetic for the most part until it happens to them.

    Enjoy that police state tyranny then, by the time you get over your apathy it will be too late and will require a long and costly war with a foreign power invading America, or a bloody revolution. Enjoy the mess you people have made of your country by not caring about what goes on until it happens to you.

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

  • icon
    got_runs? (profile), 6 Oct 2014 @ 8:12pm

    Documents? we have no documents.

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

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 4:08am

      Re:

      CIA: They got wet because the ceiling collapsed where the papers were kept.

      We: But they are electronic documents.

      CIA: Oh. One of our guys downloaded some malware infested porn and everything got deleted.

      We: But you surely have backups.

      CIA: The dog ate them.

      *facepalm*

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2014 @ 10:14am

    Surprised?

    The DOJ said it wouldn't investigate

    Has the DOJ investigated anything under Obama? It is my belief that the head of the DOJ should be appointed by whatever political party is not in control of the White House.

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

  • icon
    Get off my cyber-lawn! (profile), 7 Oct 2014 @ 1:22pm

    When pigs fly

    You have a better chance of convincing Team Prenda to do pro-bono work for the EFF than you do of ever getting ANYTHING out of this administration. File a FOIA - ignore the FOIA, file a lawsuit - ignore the lawsuit, Judge orders discovery or delivery of documents - ignore the judge.

    Ad infinitum, ad neauseum.

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

  • identicon
    Barb Aque, 11 Oct 2014 @ 5:25pm

    Supp. reply to EPPIC discovery FOIA litigation

    I withdraw my previous response posted on this. I thought article referred to a 2d lawsuit. CELL PHONES SUCK WHEN READING STUFF. EPPIC should prevail on its discovrry requests if its allegations are true. I say this w/out reviewing Senator Feinstein's affidavit..nor copy of CIA IG report. CIA summary insufficient period. i have not read section of the code but assume plaintiff's allegations are true..and do notvknow if Director's rrmarks were sworn to or not. Quite ftankly I did not know the IG was acting as an independent CID agent...pretty wild. The number of CONFLICTS here is amazing. EPPIC and Committee are right...the investigation and report are tainted. TRUST THE CIA DOING AN INVESTIGATION OF THEM..ON COMPUTER ON CIA PREMISES? Ouch... Hope plaintiff gets this and more. Sanction the spooks for pushing that envelope on the Senate...of all things. They got busted....aw snap...too bad.

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


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