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The New York Times Company et al v. Central Intelligence Agency and 17 other new FOIA lawsuits

by Harry Hammitt on April 12th, 2018

We have added 120 documents from 18 FOIA cases filed between April 1, 2018 and April 7, 2018. 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. The New York Times Company et al v. Central Intelligence Agency (filed Apr 5, 2018)
    New York Times Reporter Scott Shane submitted a FOIA request to the CIA for records concerning the 1953 death of Frank Olson, who had worked for the U.S. Army and the CIA at Fort Dettrick. Shane had made a FOIA request for records on Olson in 2003 and received a total of 83 records with no indication that anything had not been disclosed. Those record suggested that Olson’s death was the result of an accident or suicide. In 2016, Shane submitted a second FOIA request for Olson’s records based on information he had received that records existed giving a much different account of Olson’s death. The agency acknowledged receipt of that request. Shane later told the agency that he was uncertain if the medical records mentioned in his request were actually medical records or a euphemism for sensitive material. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the New York Times and Shane filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  2. The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), et al v. U.S. Department of Labor (filed Apr 2, 2018)
    Center for Investigative Reporting Staffwriter Will Evans submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Labor for records concerning EEO-1 reports pertaining to various federal contractors. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests. It denied Evans’ request under Exemption 4 (confidential business information). Evans submitted another FOIA request for correspondence concerning the agency’s interaction with the contractors pertaining to the confidentiality of the information. The agency acknowledged receipt of that request and denied it as well under Exemption 4. Evans filed administrative appeals of the denials, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, Evans and CIR filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  3. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Apr 2, 2018)
    Democracy Forward Foundation submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy for records concerning materials sent on behalf of individuals who had been nominated to serve as judges om federal courts of appeal. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request and took a 10-day extension. After hearing nothing further from the agency, DFF filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  4. FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM v. U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT (filed Apr 2, 2018)
    The Federation for American Immigration Reform submitted a FOIA request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for records concerning detention notices sent by ICE to law enforcement agencies which did not respond. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, FAIR filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  5. WRIGHT v. FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION (filed Apr 2, 2018)
    Chris Wright, a blogger, submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning changes the Trump administration is making to counterterrorism training materials and doctrine. The agency did not acknowledge Wright’s request until he contacted the agency to inquire about its status. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Wright filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs
  6. The New York Times Company et al v. United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (filed Apr 2, 2018)
    New York Times Reporter Eileen Sullivan submitted a FOIA request to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for records concerning communications between the agency and Congress or a variety of gun-related organizations pertaining to bump stocks. Sullivan also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency denied Sullivan’s request for expedited processing but told her that as a member of the media she would not be charged search fees. After hearing nothing further from the agency, the New Times and Sullivan filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  7. DEMOCRACY FORWARD FOUNDATION v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE et al (filed Apr 3, 2018)
    Democracy Forward Foundation submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Treasury for records concerning President Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia. DFF also requested a fee waiver. Both agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests. Commerce granted DFF’s request for a fee waiver. Treasury asked DFF to narrow the scope of its request and DFF clarified the request. But after hearing nothing further from either agency, DFF filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  8. VOTEVETS ACTION FUND v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS (filed Apr 4, 2018)
    The VoteVets Action Fund submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Veterans Affairs for records concerning the organization as well as records concerning the firing of Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin. VoteVets Action Fund also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request. The agency told VoteVets Action Fund that it would be unable to respond within 30 days. VoteVets Action Fund then filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index, Public Interest Fee Waiver
  9. VIZCARRA CALDERON v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed Apr 4, 2018)
    Yolanda Vizcarra Calderon submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State for records concerning herself. Both agencies acknowledged receipt of her requests. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told her it was referring three pages to U.S. Immigration and Customs Service. Calderon also submitted a request directly to ICE requesting the records USCIS had referred to ICE. Calderon submitted a FOIA request to the Department of State for her records. State told her that it had 68 documents, but disclosed only one document in full and six documents in part. Calderon then resubmitted her request asking for the records the agency had not disclosed. After hearing nothing further from either agency, Calderon filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Discovery, Litigation – Vaughn index
  10. CASTANEDA SANCHEZ v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY et al (filed Apr 4, 2018)
    Ranfiel Castaneda Sanchez submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State for records about himself. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement acknowledged receipt of his request. The State Department located 85 documents, but only disclosed 12 documents in full and six documents in part. Sanchez then refiled his request to the State Department for the records that had been withheld in response to his first request. the agency acknowledged receipt of that request, but after hearing nothing further from either agency, Sanchez filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Discovery, Litigation – Vaughn index
  11. Oppenheim v. Department of the Treasury (filed Apr 4, 2018)
    Roy Oppenheim submitted two FOIA requests to the IRS for records concerning the handling of his whistleblower complaint. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but denied the requests under Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) and Exemption 7(C) (invasion of privacy concerning law enforcement records). Oppenheim filed an administrative appeal, which was denied. He then filed suit.
    Issues: Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  12. PUBLIC EMPLOYEES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSIBILITY et al v. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Apr 5, 2018)
    Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning contacts with the news media pertaining to Dr. Elizabeth Sutherland, who had recently retired from the agency and expressed concerns about its current policy direction. PEER provided a Privacy Act authorization from Sutherland. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, PEER filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  13. JAMES MADISON PROJECT et al v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (filed Apr 5, 2018)
    The James Madison Project and Daily Beast reporters Noah Shachtman and Betsy Woodruff submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Justice for records concerning the classification/declassification review of two separate memos written by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) and co-chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA). They also requested expedited processing and a fee waiver. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, JMP, Schactman, and Woodruff filed suit.
    Issues: Expedited processing, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  14. CAMPAIGN FOR ACCOUNTABILITY v. U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Apr 5, 2018)
    The Campaign for Accountability submitted two FOIA requests to the EPA. The first request concerned communications between administrator Scott Pruitt and a variety of individuals and organizations pertaining to a number of keywords. The second FOIA request concerned communications between two EPA Region 6 employees pertaining to a variety of individuals and topics. The agency acknowledged receipt of both requests. The agency told CfA that it would provide records responsive to the Region 6 request on a rolling basis. However, after hearing nothing further from the agency concerning either request, CfA filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  15. AMERICAN OVERSIGHT v. U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE et al (filed Apr 6, 2018)
    American Oversight submitted FOIA requests to the Department of Defense, the Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the General Services Administration for records concerning the travel practices of senior federal officials, including the use of non-commercial air travel. All the agencies acknowledged receipt of the requests. DOD told American Oversight that it was referring the request to the Air Force as well. After hearing nothing further from any of the agencies, American Oversight filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  16. GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT et al v. UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (filed Apr 6, 2018)
    The Government Accountability Project submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records concerning the use of the term “gag order” since the beginning of the Trump administration. GAP Investigator Zack Kopplin also submitted a FOIA request to the EPA for records referencing the phrases “red team,” “blue team,” as well as the term “critiquing climate change” since the beginning of the Trump administration. The agency acknowledged receipt of the requests, but after hearing nothing from the agency pertaining to either request, GAP filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees
  17. FEDERATION FOR AMERICAN IMMIGRATION REFORM v. U.S. DDEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (filed Apr 6, 2018)
    The Federation for American Immigration Reform submitted a FOIA request to the Office of Refugee Resettlement at the Department of Health and Human Services for records concerning communications with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and data concerning the number of DACA arrivals from 2012-2018 and the age breakdown of unaccompanied children arriving in the U.S. from 2012-2018. The agency acknowledged receipt of the request, but after hearing nothing further from the agency, FAIR filed suit.
    Issues: Adequacy – Search, Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Attorney’s fees, Litigation – Vaughn index
  18. Lambertson v. Federal Bureau of Investigation (filed Apr 6, 2018)
    Richard Lambertsen, a researcher and veterinarian, submitted a FOIA request to the FBI for records concerning the visit of a special agent to Lambertsen’s home in Easton, Maryland in 2008 in response to Lambertsen’s request to purchase a firearm. After hearing nothing further from the agency, Lambertsen filed suit.
    Issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation – Recovery of Costs

From → FOIA, PACER

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