Why Did The FBI Say It Couldn't Release Documents To 'FOIA Terrorist' Jason Leopold That It Released To Me Months Earlier?
from the hmmm dept
What's up, FBI? Back in early 2015, when the FBI and (specifically) Director James Comey ramped up their silly "going dark" moral panic about how strong encryption was making us less safe, I sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FBI for all of the FBI's internal talking points about "going dark" or other views on encryption. My main reason for this was really to see if I might uncover some of the reasoning for why the FBI had quietly deleted a page on its website that encouraged people to encrypt their phones. It took until May of last year, but the FBI finally delivered me a stack of talking points, mostly focused on talking point lists and speeches given by Comey. I never wrote about it because the talking points alone weren't even that interesting.
In fact, I'd almost totally forgotten about that entire request. But then, a few weeks ago, right here on this site, Tim Cushing wrote about the latest escapades of Jason Leopold, the reporter whose use of FOIA requests is so prolific that he's been dubbed a "FOIA terrorist" by the DOJ. It turns out that Leopold had made a similar request to the FBI... and was told that while they had found 487 responsive records, they were giving him a grand total of 0 of them, because they were all subject to restrictions on release. In that article, Cushing, rightly explains why this is ridiculous. The whole point of "talking points" is to share them with the public. There is simply no FOIA exemption that allows for blocking them.
But this was even more bizarre to me for the simple fact that the FBI had already sent me many of those documents. I didn't add up all the pages sent to me, but I can tell it's probably closer to about 100 pages than 487, so clearly the FBI is likely lying to me as well in terms of how many "responsive" documents there really were, but I'm confused as to why the FBI couldn't release these kinds of documents to Leopold.
I mean, just imagine the chaos that would have occurred if the FBI had obeyed the law and given Leopold such talking points as:
Thank goodness that didn't happen. Either way, I'm embedding all the files the FBI released to me below, just in case Leopold finds them more useful than I did -- such as using them as potentially useful evidence in the lawsuit he should file against the FBI for not releasing these same documents to him.