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."


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  • icon
    AEIO_ (profile), 30 Dec 2016 @ 8:42pm

    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

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 30 Dec 2016 @ 9:36pm

    "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.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 1 Jan 2017 @ 6:28am

      Re: "Quick, hide the eggs!"

      Eh, it's not like they have their competence or anything.

      Plus, anything that helps get rid of the traitor* Comey is a bonus.

      *Traitor is being used here in its technical term, as opposed to its legal definition in the Constitution. Viewer discretion is advised.

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

  • icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 30 Dec 2016 @ 10:21pm

    Since they won't tell us what's in the document, we'll just assume the worst.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2016 @ 12:02pm

      Re:

      > Since they won't tell us what's in the document, we'll just assume the worst.

      What Snowden showed us is that there's a difference between "us" assuming the worst, and everyone having access to hard evidence that forces changes in policy.

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

    • icon
      Seegras (profile), 3 Jan 2017 @ 1:03am

      Re:

      *Since they won't tell us what's in the document, we'll just assume the worst.*

      Actually, you should assume the dumbest. Because that's probably what it is, they're afraid of being embarrassed.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2016 @ 2:59am

    Let's be fair, though - going through all the rubbish James Comey has publicly spouted in the course of his career, the FBI might have been trying to be accurate. Yes, Comey regurgitated 487 pages' worth of talking points. And it was probably all garbage worth nothing.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2016 @ 3:06am

    Homos. Get real jobs faggots. Go fuck yourself.

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

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 31 Dec 2016 @ 5:12am

    Re: hacking

    Weirdly parallel.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2016 @ 5:43am

    It's just gonna get better.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Dec 2016 @ 5:58am

    Re: hacking

    So, in some states one needs to prove some sort of transgression before a divorce is even considered ...

    I can't imagine who might benefit from such an arrangement, lawyers & their private detective brother-in-laws?

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

  • identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 31 Dec 2016 @ 8:34am

    Huge leap

    This is a huge leap for our government. Normally they wait the term of copyright then say no information exist for your request. At least this they put effort in a response.

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

  • icon
    Groaker (profile), 1 Jan 2017 @ 9:49am

    The FBI, the NSA and other agencies seem to be less than capable of doing their jobs. Perhaps it is time to either give them a budget of $0. Or to replace them with with the KeyStone Kops, who at least managed to run around in circles.

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

  • identicon
    i am the lonely heart club band, 1 Jan 2017 @ 10:48am

    they are lying , i hacking in from russia and got 666

    ....

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


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