FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: Cause of Action Institute Sues CIA over FOIA Political Influence Records

FOIA News (2015-16)Kevin SchmidtComment

From Cause of Action Institute's website:

Cause of Action Institute (CoA Institute) today filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) seeking access to records concerning the undue influence of political appointees in processing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.  The requested records were created by the CIA Office of Inspector General (OIG) but are accessible under FOIA through the CIA. The CIA is one of the few agencies that has refused to release the relevant records without sufficient explanation.

CoA Institute President & CEO, and former federal judge, Alfred J. Lechner, Jr.: “All federal agencies have the obligation to efficiently and effectively respond to FOIA requests. After three years, the CIA has demonstrated it has no intention of providing the requested documents in a timely manner. The current administration has neglected its duties under FOIA and allowed federal agencies to undermine transparency requirements. Despite numerous media reports that have criticized the Obama administration for its poor efforts to ensure transparency and openness, agencies continued to abuse the law and permit political appointees to insert themselves into the FOIA process.”

Congress requested the OIGs of several agencies to conduct audits of their FOIA programs looking into inappropriate influence of political appointees in the processing of records requests.  In two seperate FOIA requests, CoA Institute requested the CIA OIG’s final reports, but the agency has yet to produce the documents.  In one case, the CIA has stonewalled CoA Institute for three years and has twice indicated that it “will not acknowledge or respond to any additional queries regarding the status” of the CoA Institute FOIA request.