In rare loss for CIA federal judge not convinced in FOIA case

Tim Cushing of techdirt, February 8, 2018, reports that the CIA has been downright devious in its refusal to comply with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. But in a recent ruling a federal district judge was not impressed with the CIA’s arguments defending their release of redacted e-mails between their public affairs office and journalists. The partially redacted e-mails, with classified information, had previously been disclosed but now denied to a journalist filing a FOIA request. In ruling against the CIA, the judge wrote, “[The] CIA voluntarily disclosed what it had no obligation to disclose (and, indeed, had a statutory obligation not to disclose). In the real world, disclosure to some who are unauthorized operates as a waiver of the right to keep information private as to anyone else.”

The CIA is guided by a secret report drafted in 1975 listing 126 ways of withholding information from the public. The list enables the CIA to establish “prior determination” by the CIA director that, to quote from CIA memo, “the particular aspect of either a source or method that is now the subject of the FOIA request is within the scope of his statutory responsibility.” In drafting the 126 “points of exclusion,” the CIA strayed broad and general to including points “not strictly intelligence sources of methods.” (Muckrock, July 6, 2017, by Emma Best)

For earlier FAC coverage, click here.


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