Posts Tagged ‘Osama bin Laden’

FOI DAILY DOSE: FBI’s secret surveillance and a CIA lawsuit for post-9/11 files

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the U.S. Department of Justice clashed over the nondisclosure of a secret legal memo that justifies the FBI’s ability to access citizen phone records without the inclusion of any oversight or legal process.

EFF filed a FOIA lawsuit Thursday demanding release of the memo, according to an EFF press release.

Last year, a report from the DOJ Inspector General stated the FBI had found a new way to justify this telephone access that was corroborated by an opinion issued by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel.

The report was redacted and failed to disclose the statutes that form the backbone of this legal justification and to explain the kinds of records to which the new exception applies.

The CIA is also facing a FOIA lawsuit.

Filed Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the lawsuit demands records about the CIA Inspector General’s report on the treatment of people detained outside the U.S. after Sept.11. It also requests information on an internal investigation into the Office of the Inspector General itself that was reported in 2007 by The New York Times.

The initial FOIA request was submitted on April 25, according to the lawsuit, but the CIA hasn’t disclosed the records or explained its reasoning for withholding any information.

The lawsuit cites articles about Osama bin Laden’s death and the revival of debates about the use of torture techniques as a key reason for requesting the immediate release of the requested documents.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).

FOI DAILY DOSE: AP pushes for bin Laden photos, docs raise questions about D.C. cops, Elena Kagan

AP seeks bin Laden photos

Despite President Obama’s decision not to release post-mortem photos of Osama bin Laden, The Associated Press won’t give up the fight.

The Obama administration refused AP’s call for an expedited review of its FOIA request, so AP is appealing to the Department of Defense.

But AP isn’t just after the photos. It also wants other information about the bin Laden operation, including copies of the DNA tests proving that the man killed was bin Laden, contingency plans, and other video and photographs of the mission.

Police Escort Records

While it may be having trouble obtaining the bin Laden documents, another AP FOIA request revealed records from the Washington, D.C. police that show it’s not just top federal officials who receive law enforcement escorts.

Charlie Sheen, Bill Gates and singer Taylor Swift are among those who have received escorts that are supposed to be reserved for foreign dignitaries and major government officials.

The issue of celebrity escorts was thrown into the spotlight after Charlie Sheen publicized his April 19 escort by tweeting about the service. In one tweet posted with a photo via his yfrog webpage, Sheen wrote: “in car with Police escort in front and rear! driving like someone’s about to deliver a baby! Cop car lights #Spinning!”

While the services are paid for – police escorts run a rate of $55.71 per hour – they could go against protocol when used for professional athletes or other celebrities.

Police escorts are also allowed if there is concern for public safety or crowd control, which may make some celebrity escorts OK, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said in an interview with AP. Past services for entertainers or other celebrities will be evaluated based on the Charlie Sheen case.

Justice Kagan and Health Care Law

The AP isn’t the only organization making headlines with its FOIA requests.

A FOIA lawsuit filed in February by Judicial Watch and the Media Research Center may revive concerns about whether Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan should be involved in future cases involving the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.

Documents provided due to the lawsuit show Kagan helped develop a legal defense for the law as solicitor general before she was appointed to the Supreme Court, according to an article from The Daily Caller.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email ( or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).



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