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Tag: FOIA

Oscar-Winning Director Sues Justice Department for Public Records of Her Airport Datainments

Laura Poitras

Laura Poitras

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Oscar-winning Laura Poitras is suing the Justice Department and other federal agencies after they have denied her access to public records documenting the dozens of times she said she has been questioned and searched at airports, Variety reports. 

The “Citizenfour” director claims in the lawsuit that she has been detained every time she entered the country from 2006 to 2012 to work on her documentary.

Fed up with being targeted, she filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain records about those incidents.

She said that her requests have been virtually ignored.

Gawker Wins Lawsuit Against FBI for Records on Hulk Hogan’s Sex Tape

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The online news site Gawker won a lawsuit against the FBI to obtain evidence connected to an FBI investigation of Hulk Hogan’s sex tape.

The evidence has been important to Gawker since it was sued by Hogan for posting footage of a sex tape featuring the wrestler.

The FBI was investigating a Los Angeles attorney’s attempted sale of the Hogan video but has since closed the probe.

A federal judge in Florida said the bureau is required to turn over the records.

The FBI maintained the evidence was exempt from disclosure laws because it would invite the privacy rights of Hogan and his partner.

FBI, Marshals Service Bestowed ‘Black Hole Award’ for Refusing to Disclose Records

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s not an award to celebrate.

The Utah Headlines Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists bestowed the Black Hole Award to the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI.

The Deseret News published a letter to the Attorney General from the journalist group.

The group explained that the agencies won the award for refusing to disclose any information about the April 21, 2014, shooting at a federal courthouse in Salt Lake City.

The shooting by a U.S. marshal killed defendant Siale Angilau, and the case was investigated by the FBI.

“Those few facts and that the Department of Justice elected not to prosecute the marshal comprise what we know,” the group wrote. “No one at the Marshals Service or the FBI will answer more questions. The Marshals Service has denied multiple requests made for documents under the Freedom of Information Act. A request to the FBI has been pending for a year.”

Judge: Homeland Security violated FOIA by Refusing to Respond to Request for Records

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Homeland Security Department violated the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to disclose records about the telephone costs for immigrant detainees, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Chief Judge Marsha Penchman criticized the department for essentially ignoring a request from Prison Legal News, the Associated Press reports.

The judge said the department failed to respond within the required 20 days and even ignored a second request.

Under President Obama, federal agencies have been stubborn and reluctant to disclose records unless they are sued.

ACLU Sues Border Patrol for Records on Questionable ‘Roving Patrols’

istock photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ACLU sued Border Patrol to get more insight into the use of “roving patrols,” Reuters reports.

The suit comes after the CBP ignored a July 2014 request under the Freedom of Information Act to release information on the patrols, which lead to people being stopped more than 100 miles from the Mexico border.

“The Border Patrol operates as a rogue agency, claiming extra-constitutional powers that extend far from any border, and operating with no effective oversight,” said Adrienna Wong, attorney with the ACLU Foundation of Southern California in a statement.

The request seeks records from the San Diego and El Centrol sectors. The ACLU wants to know how many people are stopped, what the policies are and what the complaints are.

“Roving patrols have long been associated with civil rights violations, and abuses are not limited to the Southwest, as prior FOIA lawsuits have shown,” the statement said.

 

Homeland Security Reaches Agreement with Washington Times After Improper Record Seizure

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Homeland Security reached a rare settlement with a newspaper after seizing a reporter’s notes and records from her home while executing a warrant for information on guns allegedly possessed by her husband, the Washington Times reports.

The agency agreed to reimburse some of the legal bills accred by the newspaper and the reporter, Audrey Hudson, whose home was raided in August 2013 and her notes and records on the problems inside the Federal Air Marshal Service seized.

“While the settlement payments cover just a fraction of the legal bills we accrued, the fight was, in the end, about protecting a journalist’s right to keep her sources confidential and to engage in the First Amendment protected activity of reporting without unwarranted government intrusion,” said Larry Beasley, the president and chief executive officer of The Times.

Hudson said she hopes the settlement puts an end to similar seizures.

“The importance of this case was that we just were not going to let it stand, the idea that federal officers at will could confiscate a reporter’s notes without any sort of subpoena or search warrant seeking the notes or even directed at the reporter,” Ms. Hudson said.

Homeland Security also returned documents and other notes to Hudson.

Homeland Security did not return calls from the Washington Times for comment.

Flood Wipes Out Significant Portion of FBI Documents on Civil Rights, KKK

FBI photo

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A flood has wiped out a good portion of the FBI’s documents on the civil rights era.

IO9 reports the discovery was made recently after a professor had requested documents related to the Ku Klux Klan.

Those documents – and many more – were destroyed when the FBI’s archives in Alexandria, Va., were flooded.

Hundreds of thousands of pages of other documents were destroyed. They include 41 volumes on the National Negro Labor Council, 23 volumes on Claude Lightfoot, 19 volumes on the Nation of Islam and eight volumes on Detroit’s civil rights issues.

The professor, Trevor Griffey, wrote in his blog:

A more important question, however, is: why are these archives in the possession of the FBI at all? Why does the FBI continue to retain millions of pages of historically significant files, many of which are over 50 years old, that have no relevance to its contemporary law enforcement mission? Why have these files not already been transferred to the National Archives?

Many of the historically significant files destroyed in the Virginia flooding included a series of files that were supposed to have been transferred to the National Archives during George W. Bush’s second term….Almost ten years later, these files should not still be in the FBI’s possession.

Other files of major significance to the study of racial justice, the left, and U.S. foreign policy— particularly the FBI’s 105 series files, which include hundreds of thousands of pages of files on the Black Panther Party— remain in the FBI’s possession and decades away from ever being declassified or transferred to the National Archives.

These and other historically significant files that sit in secret FBI warehouses are vulnerable to more than just flooding. Decades-old standards for determining historical significance that tend to treat local history as unimportant, combined with wide latitude granted to FBI records management staff, have resulted in tragic and reckless destruction of many historically significant files.

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.’”