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6 november 2008

Court Rebukes CIA on Freedom of Information, Recognizes Journalists, Not CIA, Determine What Is News

CIA Ordered to Treat National Security Archive as Representative of the News Media for All FOIA Requests

Washington, DC, November 5, 2008 - In a striking rebuke to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Judge Gladys Kessler of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia yesterday rejected the CIA's view that it - and not journalists - has the right to determine which Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are newsworthy.

Reconsidering its earlier decision deferring to the CIA's written assurances that the agency would cease illegally denying the National Security Archive's news media status, the court ordered the CIA to treat the Archive as a representative of the news media for all of its pending and future non-commercial requests. Finding that the CIA "has twice made highly misleading representations to the Archive, as well as to [the] Court," the court explained that the CIA's position "is truly hard to take seriously" and enjoined the CIA from illegally denying the Archive's news media status.

"The CIA's long-running failure to treat the Archive's FOIA requests in accordance with clearly established law, together with its persistent lack of candor with the court, raise serious concerns about what else the CIA may be doing to obstruct the public's legitimate efforts to learn about the agency's past and present activities," said Pat Carome, counsel for the Archive from WilmerHale LLP. "Judge Kessler's ruling represents a stern reminder to the CIA that it must live up to our nation's open government laws."

"Sadly, it took us 28 months, repeated CIA misrepresentations to the court, and extensive litigation to get the CIA to do a simple thing - to follow the law," commented the Archive's General Counsel, Meredith Fuchs. "This case shows why the OPEN Government Act of 2007 was so sorely needed and why Congress is to be commended for making the FOIA a priority. The Freedom of Information Act is stronger today thanks to the amendments and a court that was willing to enforce the law."

Visit the Web site of the National Security Archive for more information about today's posting.
(bron/source: NSA)