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Tag: FOIA

Judge Admonishes FBI for Silly Argument for Not Releasing Public Records

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s argument for resisting an inmate’s Freedom of Information Act request is “transparently implausible,” a federal judge said in admonishing the bureau, the Sacramento Bee reports.

The FBI made the bizarre argument that the “FOIA request need not be disclosed because they reside on two CDs and a thumb drive.”

The FOIA requests by Gregory Bartko, who is serving prison time for conspiracy, mail fraud and selling unregistered securities, seek records involving the federal prosecutor who handled his case.

U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg said the FBI must turn over the documents.

“The Bureau’s rationale seems to be that the electronic media in question are not ‘records’ for FOIA purposes because they are physical items that were presented to prosecutors as evidence,” Boasberg wrote. “Why this reasoning would exclude CDs that hold documents in digital form but not, say, the printer paper that will eventually hold this Opinion is beyond the Court.”

“In any case,” Boasberg continued, “no sophistry is necessary here, as Congress, with commendable technological foresight, amended FOIA in 1996 to cover records ‘maintained by an agency in any format, including an electronic format.’”

U.S. Releases Justice Department Documents Justifying Killing of U.S. Citizen in Yemen

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The U.S. did not violate the constitution or other laws by killing American citizen Anwar Awlaki in Yemen without due process of law, the Justice Department argues in a previously secret memoir release by a federal court Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The memo was written in 2010, a year before a U.S. drone strike killed Awlaki.

The documents were released after the ACLU and New York Times sued.

The memo is unusual because it advocates killing of an American citizen without the opportunity of due process. It was written by former Obama Justice Department official David Barron

“In the present circumstances, as we understand the facts, the U.S. citizen in question has gone overseas and become part of the forces of an enemy with which the United States is engaged in an armed conflict; that person is engaged in continual planning and direction of attacks upon U.S. persons from one of the enemy’s overseas bases of operations; the U.S. government does not know precisely when such attacks will occur; and a capture operation would be infeasible,” Barron wrote.

Man Sues NSA, FBI, DIA Over Investigations Involving Ex-South African Leader Nelson Mandela

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Did a CIA tip lead to Neslon Mandela’s 1962 arrest and subsequent 27 years of imprisonment in South Africa?

A Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Ryan Shapiro, filed suit Tuesday against the NSA, FBI and Defense Intelligence Agency for failing to turn over records with a Freedom of Information Act Request, the Huffington Post reports.

Shapiro is investigating the extent to which the U.S. played a role in Mandela’s arrest

“The failure of the NSA, FBI, DIA, and CIA to comply with my FOIA requests for records on Mandela highlights that FOIA is broken and that this sad reality is just one component among many of the ongoing crisis of secrecy we now face,” Shapiro told The Huffington Post.

Mystery Behind Disappearance of Civil Rights Activist in Wounded Knee Is Revealed in FBI Records

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has finally confirmed that a civil rights activist who disappeared while supporting Native Americans in South Dakota four decades was murdered, the Buffalo News reports.

Roy Robinson went missing after arriving at Wounded Knee to support the American Indian Movement’s fight against the federal government.

The discovery wasn’t easy for his wife, Cheryl Robinson.

Two lawyers were forced to file Freedom of Information Act requests to access the information, which shows the FBI suspected AIM was behind the murder.

“They confirm the rumors that have been floating out there for years,” said Michael Kuzma, one of the Robinson family’s lawyers. “The only missing part of the puzzle is where Ray’s buried.”

Appeals Court: FBI Does Not Have to Release Memo Granting Permission to Gather Phone Records

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A confidential Justice Department legal opinion on the extent of the FBI’s surveillance authority does not have to be released to the public, a federal appeals court ruled, the Washington Post reports.

The January 2010 memo gave the FBI permission to gather phone call records from telecommunications companies.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the memo was not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

“The District Court correctly concluded that the unclassified portions of the OLC Opinion could not be released without harming the deliberative processes of the government by chilling the candid and frank communications necessary for effective governmental decision-making,” the court said in its opinion written by D.C. Circuit Judge Harry T. Edwards.

Civil Rights Group Gets Access to Phone Secret Surveillance Unit Information

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

New documents reveal more about the FBI’s cell phone surveillance group, which has the technology to listen to anyone’s calls, Slate reports.

The surveillance method was revealed in new documents received by the civil rights group, Electronic Privacy Information Center, using the Freedom of Information Act.

The technology, most commonly referred to as “Stingrays” are portable surveillance transceivers that trick phones into transferring onto a fake network, Slate wrote.

The FBI maintains it uses the phones to track information of individual suspects, but the group believes the surveillance may violate the federal Communications Act because it interferes with the cellphone signals.

FBI Trailed U.S.-born al-Awlaki Nine Years Before He Was Killed by Drone

al-Awlaki

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

In the six hours before radical American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki entered the Pentagon for a luncheon in February 2002, he was being tracked by the FBI’s elite surveillance unit, Fox News reports.

Records obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show the bureau’s Special Surveillance Group trailed al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

Fox News wrote that al-Awlaki was delivering a controversial religious lecture to Defense Department officials after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The surveillance didn’t reveal much, Fox News reported, but it raised questions about whether the FBI saw al-Awlaki as an asset before the U.S. killed him nine years later.

 

 

Records: FBI Continues to Investigate Deceased Rolling Stone Journalist Michael Hastings

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

The FBI continues to investigate Rolling Stone journalist Michael Hastings, who died in a car crash in June, for “controversial reporting,” Al Jazeera America reports.

The bureau opened a file on Hastings on June 11, 2012 “to memorialize controversial reporting by Rolling Stone magazine on June 7, 2012,” according to records obtained by the news agency in a FOIA request.

The story, called “America’s Last Prisoner of War,” featured a lengthy investigation about U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured by the Taliban in June 2009.

Details of the investigation remain fuzzy, but the FBI documents describe Hastings’ store as igniting “a media frenzy, speculating about the circumstances of [redacted] capture, and whether U.S. resources and effort should continue to be expended for his recovery.”