Category Archives: FOIA

DHS must release records under FOIA

On Nov. 27, the federal District of Columbia ruled on DHS’s withholding of records under FOIA exemptions.  The American Immigration Council submitted a FOIA request to DHS.  In response, DHS released two pages.  The American Immigration Council then filed the lawsuit.

In its complaint, the American Immigration Council stated, “CBP officers have prevented attorneys from accompanying their clients during inspections, limited the scope of representation, refused to accept supporting documentation proffered by attorneys, and actively dissuaded noncitizens from hiring attorneys.”

The Court ruled that DHS must submit a new affidavit to demonstrate the adequacy of USCIS’ search, and must release 2/3 of the records withheld.

The Court stated,

“After sitting on a fairly standard Freedom of Information Act request by plaintiff American Immigration Council for almost a year, defendant U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (a component of the Department of Homeland Security, the other defendant) produced a response riddled with errors.”

“After in camera review, the court concludes that two-thirds of the withheld records contested by the Council should have been largely or wholly released.”

“FOIA cases count on agencies to do their jobs with reasonable diligence. USCIS must do better.”

via Courthouse News Service.

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Filed under Appellate, civil rights, discovery, FOIA, immigration, legal decision

Fedl Judge Unseals Watergate Trial Records

Unsealing a significant chunk of legal history, a federal judge has OKd a history professors request for access to the criminal trial records of two men prosecuted in 1973 in connection with the Watergate break-in and cover-up.

In a Friday order PDF, U.S. District Judge Judge Royce Lamberth said that some of the trial records for G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord should be released within 30 days, according to Politico.

However, the judge did not unseal all of the records and rejected a portion of the petition by Luke Nichter, a Texas A&M University history professor, which sought a court-ordered probe of what he described as breaches by the Washington Post of grand jury secrecy. The newspaper famously served as the driving force in exposing the Watergate scandal that eventually resulted in President Richard M. Nixons resignation from office.

“The National Archives has told me they have an enormous quantity of Watergate records still sealed,” Nichter said after the ruling. “Theyve told me they hope to bring these documents out of legal limbo,” he continued, but they cant be accessed through a Freedom of Information Act request. “It takes extraordinary action by a judge to bring them out.

“The judge told the National Archives and Records Administration to review and release the material in 30 days.

The Associated Press also has a story.

via Fedl Judge Unseals Watergate Trial Records for G. Gordon Liddy and James McCord – News – ABA Journal.

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Filed under courts, FOIA, Judges, legal decision

ACLU loses FOIA CIA request

he ACLU won’t get information on unauthorized interrogation techniques allegedly used by CIA agent on suspects captured in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a federal judge ruled.  You can read the opinion here.

The group sued the federal agency for refusing to release the records under the Freedom of Information Act. According to the ruling, the records are composed of reports written by the CIA Office of the Inspector General “relating to the detention, interrogation, or treatment of individuals apprehended after Sept. 11, 2001, and held at detention facilities outside the United States.”

U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson dismissed the ACLU’s claims for all the records except for one, which the judge ordered to be remanded back to the CIA to determine if it holds information that has already been released.

The judge accepted the CIA’s argument that the records are protected by exemptions one and three of FOIA, which allow the government to withhold information sensitive to national security and protected by statute. In this case, the CIA cited the National Security Act as the statute protecting the records.

“The ACLU’s only argument is that interrogation techniques cannot be properly classified as intelligence sources or methods when they are ‘unauthorized,'” states Judge Jackson. “It provides scant support for this assertion, and there is nothing in statute or case law that requires courts to treat information about unauthorized interrogation techniques differently from information about authorized techniques.”After the ACLU’s initial complaint, the CIA released some records that were partially redacted, but withheld the 11 documents at issue in their entirety.

via Courthouse News Service.

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Filed under civil rights, FOIA, legal decision