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JOHNSON v. Central Intelligence Agency and 17 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on May 11th, 2017

We have added 97 documents from 15 FOIA cases filed between April 30, 2017 and May 6, 2017. Note that there can be delays between the date a case is filed and when it shows up on PACER. If there are filings from this period that have yet to be posted on PACER, this FOIA Project list may not be complete.

Click on a case title below to view details for that case, including links to the associated docket and complaint documents.

  1. JOHNSON v. Central Intelligence Agency (filed May 4, 2017)
    Amanda Johnson, a doctoral student at MIT, submitted a FOIA request to the CIA for records concerning the development and operation of the agency’s Twitter account. The agency acknowledged receipt of her request. Johnson contacted the agency on several occasions and was told her request was being processed. Although the agency told her it still had not completed her request, the CIA’s annual FOIA report seemed to indicate the agency had processed more than 1,000 requests received after hers. She then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. MUSLIM ADVOCATES v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed May 2, 2017)
    Muslim Advocates submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning border searches conducted of electronic devices from individuals from the seven countries on President Trump’s travel ban as well as individuals perceived to be Muslim. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and took a 10-day extension. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Muslim Advocates filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. PROTECT DEMOCRACY PROJECT, INC. v. OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (filed May 2, 2017)
    The Protect Democracy Project submitted a FOIA request to OMB for records concerning the review by federal agencies of President Trump’s travel ban before it was released. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Protect Democracy Project filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  4. PROTECT DEMOCRACY PROJECT, INC. v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed May 2, 2017)
    The Protect Democracy Project submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for records concerning reviews of President Trump’s travel ban before it was issued. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The Executive Office for Immigration Review told PDP that it found no records. Other components of the agency indicated that they were beginning to process the request. After hearing nothing further, Protect Democracy Project filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  5. CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY, INC. v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed May 3, 2017)
    The Center for Biological Diversity submitted two FOIA requests to the EPA for records concerning communications sent to or from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt since he was confirmed. The agency told the Center its request was too broad. The Center appealed the denial and the agency affirmed its original decision, indicating that the Center’s request was too burdensome to process. The Center’s second FOIA request asked for records concerning Pruitt’s schedule. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told the Center that it would begin processing the request. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Center filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  6. MUSLIM ADVOCATES v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed May 3, 2017)
    Muslim Advocates submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records from U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration concerning eligibility for the Trusted Traveler Program in light of President Trump’s travel ban. Muslim Advocates also requested expedited processing. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and took a 10-day extension. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Muslim Advocates filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. WILD HORSE FREEDOM FEDERATION v. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (filed May 3, 2017)
    The Wild Horse Freedom Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Land Management for records concerning the Wild Horse and Burro Program System User’s Guide 4700 Series. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told the Foundation that it had found no records. The Foundation filed an administrative appeal of the agency’s no records decision. The agency acknowledged receipt of the appeal, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, the Wild Horse Freedom Foundation filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. WILD HORSE FREEDOM FEDERATION v. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT (filed May 3, 2017)
    The Wild Horse Freedom Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Land Management for records concerning a number of specific BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program contracts. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. After a number of inquiries concerning the status of the request were unsuccessful, the Wild Horse Freedom Foundation filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES et al (filed May 4, 2017)
    American Oversight submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Health and Human Services and OMB for records concerning communications between the agencies and Congress related to healthcare reform. American Oversight also requested expedited processing. Both agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from either agency, American Oversight filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  10. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES (filed May 5, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the FDA, the CDC, and the Office of the Surgeon General for emails discussing the relative carcinogenicity of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  11. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed May 5, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice for emails sent or received by former Acting Attorney Genera Sally Yates from January 21 through January 31, 2017. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  12. WINN v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed May 5, 2017)
    Richard Winn submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records about himself. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and indicated that it had located 4000 pages of potentially responsive records. Winn told the agency he would like to receive the records on CD and would pay up to $115 in fees. The agency then told Winn that his request fell within the unusual circumstances exception and would be placed in the agency’s backlog for processing. Winn submitted another request for records on himself and asked for a fee waiver since he planned to write a memoir of his career. The agency acknowledged that request as well, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Winn filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE et al (filed May 5, 2017)
    Judicial Watch submitted multiple FOIA requests to the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Secret Service for records concerning travel expenses for members of the Trump administration and family, as well as the cost of travel by former President Obama to Hawaii. The agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agencies, Judicial Watch filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  14. CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY v. U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (filed May 5, 2017)
    The Center for Biological Diversity submitted a FOIA request to the U.S. Geological Survey for records concerning tracking data on whooping cranes. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request but told the Center that it might not be able to respond for another two years. The Center for Biological Diversity then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  15. Goldner v Social Security Administration (filed May 5, 2017)
    Ed Goldner submitted a FOIA request to the Social Security Administration for a list of individuals and businesses who were representing clients in social security disability claim cases. He indicated that he was not seeking private or home address information for anyone. The agency acknowledged receipt of Goldner’s request, but denied it on the basis that he was seeking personal information about others included in the records. Goldner filed an administrative appeal. The agency provided some contact information for businesses, but withheld other identifying information. Goldner then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees

In addition, we have added 10 documents from 3 cases, with earlier filing dates, that have recently appeared on PACER.

  1. SPURLING v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed Apr 27, 2017)
    Leo Spurling, a state prisoner, submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning a 1988 prison escape in Kentucky in which Spurling was involved. The FBI acknowledged receipt of the request and indicated that it had located 1294 pages and that Spurling would need to pay $59 to receive the records. However, the agency and Spurling later got into a dispute about narrowing the scope of his request and he eventually filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. BARTKO v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Apr 27, 2017)
    Gregory Bartko, who had been convicted of securities fraud, submitted multiple FOIA requests to the Department of Justice for records he claimed had not been disclosed as part of his earlier FOIA litigation. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but dissatisfied with the resolution, or lack thereof, of the requests, Bartko filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  3. WEST v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR et al (filed Apr 26, 2017)
    Arthur West submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Interior for records concerning the participation of Harvey Sweitzer in a hearing involving a private mining contest. The agency provided West some redacted records. He then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees

From → FOIA, PACER

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