The following post was submitted to the CopBlock Network by Isiah Holmes, who has been featured several times previously on Cop Block, via the CopBlock.org Submissions Page. In this post, Isiah discusses a recent ruling by US District Court Judge Randolph D. Moss that the FBI has been illegally denying FOIA requests.
A strained, ravenous, demanding public outcry for greater government transparency remains an unfortunate concurrent reality. The common American police department seems to exemplify this fact, almost cocky about its many protective layers of artificial secrecy. FBI officials, however, recently topped this standard or, just as likely, found a new all time low. It now not only withholds scores of documents from FOIA requests, but also information on how it even processes requests! This most recent almost laughable, highly illegal, effort by the bureau, however, is getting some serious push back in court.
You might find yourself as dumbfounded over the FBI’s outrageous claims as US District Judge Randolph D. Moss. According to the Guardian, Judge Moss found the FBI’s current FOIA policy “fundamentally at odds with the state.” Moss first became entangled in the debacle when he ruled in favor of MIT PhD student Ryan Shapiro, who first approached the FBI.
Shapiro, All Gov reports, included the FBI’s policies in his research of Freedom of Information and Privacy Act theory. Judge Moss stepped in after FBI denied Shapiro requested documents multiple times, asking for information on the request process. Emboldened bureau entities similarly dismissed Moss, claiming no obligation to release even that. According to the Guardian, officials regard such information inherently secret and thus, exempted from the FOIA.
PhD-in-training Shapiro, the Guardian reports, criticized the FBI’s effort to do “nearly everything within it’s power to avoid compliance” with the FOIA. “This”, he continues, “results in the outrageous state of affairs in which the leading federal law enforcement agency in the country is in routine and often flagrant violation of federal law.”
The FBI, the Guardian reports, claimed releasing said documents would disclose law enforcement techniques which are not public knowledge. The specific documents requested include: search slips–documented efforts to find required files– case evaluations of the searches and subsequent processing notes. Literally some of the most basic information which, if Shapiro is correct, would render FBI’s treachery self-evident.
Judge Moss, All Gov reports, summarized the bureau’s reasons in court. Essentially to protect “the implicit disclosure of highly sensitive information relating to ongoing investigations, confidential information, and classified national security matters.” Moss acknowledged “compelling reasons” for the FBI to “withhold search slips and similar processing records.” “But”, he rules, “the FOIA itself does not do so, and the FBI can not act on the basis of an exemption…that congress has not authorized.”
One of the case attorneys, CEO of National Security Counselors Kel McClanahan, commented on Judge Moss’s ruling. “The judge carefully dissected [the government’s] argument and found that nothing in the statute or case law supported such an outlandish proposition.” “This option highlighted…the basic truth that if an agency has a problem with the fact that the information it wants to withhold is not covered by an exemption it should take the matter up with Congress, not the court system.”
Following the conclusion of this case, it would be interesting to see who in the FBI established such Orwellian standards. Not just identify them, but also charge them with treason against the American people and their government. No longer can this law enforcement agency be allowed to continue it’s renegade crusade against this country. If America’s spearhead police organization refuses to let the people in, then little hope exists for any other municipalities.
It’s encouraging to see this story taken to court, not lost in a press loop. This fight is literally one for our country, possibly more so than the Bundy clan’s recent, and misplaced, armed occupation of federal land. Revolution can not be fought, and won, with such arcane methodologies. Revolutions of ideas both work and stimulate the longevity of a given society. The FBI will be brought to task for its crimes, if not by Congress, by the people and their courts.
– Isiah Holmes