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LEOPOLD et al v. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY and 15 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on October 26th, 2017

We have added 84 documents from 14 FOIA cases filed between October 15, 2017 and October 21, 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. LEOPOLD et al v. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY (filed Oct 19, 2017)
    Reporter Jason Leopold submitted a FOIA request to the CIA for records concerning payments made by the agency to Syrian rebels fighting Assad. Leopold argued that a tweet from President Trump critical of a Washington Post article about the payments constituted public acknowledgment of the payments. Leopold also requested a fee waiver and inclusion in the news media fee category. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Leopold filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. Reyes v. U.S. Dept. of Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, et al (filed Oct 16, 2017)
    Researcher Emilio Reyes submitted two FOIA requests to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for records concerning California Indians identified in several different censuses. BIA denied Reyes’ first request and redacted 25 pages in response to his second request. Reyes filed an administrative appeal to the agency, which was denied. Reyes then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. BRADY CENTER TO PREVENT GUN VIOLENCE v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE et al (filed Oct 16, 2017)
    The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms for a White Paper prepared by the agency and dated Jan. 20, 2017 entitled “Options to Reduce or Modify Firearm Regulations.” The Brady Center also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but despite several queries from the Brady Center to check on the status of its request, the agency failed to respond. The Brady Center filed a second FOIA request for records concerning warning letters. The Brady Center also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency pertaining to either of its requests, the Brady Center filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  4. Buzzfeed, Inc. v. Department Of Justice (filed Oct 16, 2017)
    Buzzfeed reporter Zoe Tillerman submitted a FOIA request to the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Justice for records concerning the finding of misconduct by a former U.S. Attorney, the existence of which had been posted on the agency’s website. The agency provided a copy of the report with redactions under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records). Tillerman filed an administrative appeal of the denial. The agency upheld its denial. Tillerman and Buzzfeed then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  5. ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY PROJECT v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Oct 17, 2017)
    The Environmental Integrity Project submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning Administrator Scott Pruitt’s meetings with outside parties and his travel vouchers. EIP submitted a second FOIA request for records concerning travel expenses for agency staff who accompanied Pruitt on out of town trips. The agency acknowledged receipt of both requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, EIP filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  6. AMERICAN IMMIGRATION COUNCIL et al v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed Oct 17, 2017)
    The American Immigration Council and five other immigrant rights’ organizations submitted FOIA requests to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for records concerning the agency’s provision of interpretation services to other law enforcement agencies and its involvement in 911 dispatches. The agency had already responded to the organizations’ 2012 requests, disclosing some 1700 redacted pages, but in 2014 the organizations submitted requests for updates to their original request. The agency again provided redacted records, primarily under Exemption 7(E) (investigative methods and techniques). The organizations filed another follow-up request in 2017. The organizations filed administrative appeals of earlier responses, but after the agency failed to respond to its 2017 request, American Immigration Council and the other immigrant rights’ organizations filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. Commonwealth of Massachusetts et al v. United States Department of Homeland Security et al (filed Oct 17, 2017)
    The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and eight other states submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning the agency’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, records of arrests and/or detentions of individuals at certain locations, and records related to detainer requests and databases. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, and the other states filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  8. Kuntz v. U.S. Department of Justice (filed Oct 17, 2017)
    Riley Kuntz submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning authorization for the agency to search for records on any North Dakota Driver License or non-license picture upon request by any agency. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told Kuntz that it could find no records. Kuntz filed an administrative appeal, which was denied. He then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  9. The New York Times Company et al v. United States Secret Service (filed Oct 17, 2017)
    New York Times reporter Nicholas Confessore submitted a FOIA request to the U. S. Secret Service for records concerning visitors’ logs for the office of the Presidential Transition Team. The agency denied the request, telling the New York Times that the records were not subject to FOIA, but were instead subject to the Presidential Records Act. The New York Times filed an administrative appeal of that decision. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the New York Times filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  10. CAMPAIGN FOR ACCOUNTABILITY v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY (filed Oct 18, 2017)
    The Campaign for Accountability submitted a FOIA request to the Department of the Treasury for records concerning whether Trump administration officials had tried to influence the agency in connection with its dispute with Renaissance Technologies or its co-Chief Executive Officer Robert Mercer over the use of basket option contracts. CFA also requested a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and one office contacted CFA for clarification. CFA claimed the agency was unwilling to work with it to narrow the request. After hearing nothing further from the agency, CFA filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  11. LEOPOLD et al v. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (filed Oct 19, 2017)
    Reporter Jason Leopold submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for emails sent between former Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Leopold also requested a fee waiver and inclusion in the news media fee category. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and conditionally granted Leopold a fee waiver. Leopold submitted a second FOIA request for emails, meeting minutes, and phone logs for Kelly during the time he was Secretary. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and told Leopold it was too broad to process. Leopold filed an administrative appeal of that decision. The agency acknowledged receipt of Leopold’s appeal. After hearing nothing further from the agency as to either of his requests, Leopold filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. Immigrant Legal Resource Center v. United States Department of Homeland Security et al (filed Oct 20, 2017)
    The Immigrant Legal Resource Center submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Homeland Security for records concerning the agency’s policies on sanctuary cities. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. After the agency failed to respond, ILRC filed an administrative appeal of the delay. The agency remanded the appeal, telling ILRC that its request was in the queue for processing. ILRC then filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  13. Immigrant Legal Resource Center v. United States Department of Homeland Security et al (filed Oct 20, 2017)
    The Immigrant Legal Resource Center submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records concerning its policies on sanctuary cities. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. After the agency failed to respond, ILRC filed an administrative appeal of the delay. ICE remanded the appeal, telling ILRC that its request was in the queue for processing. ILRC then filed suit. This appears to be identical to 3:17-cv-6029.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  14. Highland Capital Management LP v. Internal Revenue Service (filed Oct 20, 2017)
    Highland Capital Management submitted a FOIA request to the IRS for records concerning the facts or legal analysis behind a Chief Counsel Advice issued to Highland Capital Management. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and took a 10-day extension. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Highland Capital Management filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees

In addition, we have added 4 documents from 2 cases, with earlier filing dates, that have recently appeared on PACER.

From → FOIA, PACER

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