U.S.

Federal anti-SLAPP bill introduced in the House

Kimberly Chow | Libel | News | May 15, 2015
News
May 15, 2015

A federal anti-SLAPP bill with bipartisan co-sponsors was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives this week. The SPEAK FREE Act, introduced Wednesday by Reps. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., is seen as an important step toward nationwide protection against meritless suits that chill speech.

Effort to reauthorize USA PATRIOT Act lacks basic safeguards for First Amendment rights

Hannah Bloch-Wehba | Commentary | April 22, 2015
Commentary
April 22, 2015

Last night, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a new, fast-tracked bill to reauthorize Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Section 215, which allows the government to collect "tangible things" relevant to an authorized terrorism investigation, is set to expire on June 1, 2015. Senator McConnell's bill would extend the provision through 2020.

Reporters Committee attorneys represent Alan Morrison in suit seeking justification for CIA rendition program

Freedom of Information | Commentary | March 24, 2015
Commentary
March 24, 2015

Adam Marshall and Hannah Bloch-Wehba

Alan Morrison, a dean and constitutional law professor at the George Washington University Law School, has filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency for access to records detailing the legal justification for rendition and extraordinary rendition programs conducted by the United States. Attorneys at The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press are representing Morrison pro bono.

For many years, the United States has sought to bring criminal suspects to the United States for prosecution without using extradition procedures, a practice referred to as rendition. After September 11, 2001, the CIA began a program of so-called “extraordinary rendition.” Under that program, detainees would be transferred into the custody of third-party nations, or to secretly-operated prisons known as “black sites,” for detention and interrogation.

In hearing, Lynch says critical FOIA evalution of U.S. Attorney's office was "helpful"

Sade Hale | Freedom of Information | News | January 30, 2015
News
January 30, 2015

Issues of compliance with the Freedom of Information Act received some attention during Loretta Lynch's eight-hour confirmation hearing on Wednesday.

Lynch said she will work with Congress to improve public access to open records, and described the Freedom of Information Act as "an important tool for the American people."

But Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas asked Lynch about "critical comments" made in a FOIA management evaluation of the U.S. Attorney's office of the Eastern District of New York, where Lynch was in charge.

FBI failed to disclose violations of surveillance statute, watchdog report shows

Hannah Bloch-Wehba | Commentary | January 14, 2015
Commentary
January 14, 2015

Yesterday, the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Justice (OIG) released its 2012 report on Activities Under Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 for the first time. When the report was originally issued, it was classified and not disclosed to the public. The report, in redacted form, was released in response to a FOIA lawsuit filed by The New York Times, and reveals that the FBI failed to report that it illegally collected information on individuals inside the United States.

Reporters Committee argues for broad definition of 'news media' in FOIA fees case

Adam Marshall | Freedom of Information | News | January 14, 2015
News
January 14, 2015

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard arguments Tuesday in Cause of Action v. FTC, a case that challenges whether the Federal Trade Commission properly denied fee waiver requests made by the non-profit group Cause of Action. The group asserted it was entitled to a fee waiver both because its requests were in the public interest and they are a representative of the news media. Katie Townsend, Litigation Director at the Reporters Committee, argued before the court as amicus curiae in support of the Cause of Action, focusing on the changing nature of disseminating information to the public in the digital age.

FOIA reform bill dies after House fails to schedule vote

Adam Marshall | Freedom of Information | Commentary | December 12, 2014
Commentary
December 12, 2014

A bipartisan FOIA reform bill failed to be put to a vote in the House on Thursday after it was unanimously approved by the Senate. The inaction spelled death for the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014, as House members are scheduled to leave town today and have not scheduled a vote on the measure.

One of the more frustrating aspects of the incident is that the House unanimously passed an even broader FOIA reform bill in February, leaving open government advocates wondering about the reasons for the House’s inaction.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who co-sponsored the Senate bill along with John Cornyn, R-Texas, blamed House Speaker John Boehner, tweeting on Thursday night, “And Boehner kills #FOIA improvements.”

FOIA Improvement Act unanimously passes Senate, heads to House

Adam Marshall | Freedom of Information | Commentary | December 9, 2014
Commentary
December 9, 2014

After a last minute hold was released, the Senate unanimously passed the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014 yesterday. The Act, which strengthen the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), will now head to the House for its approval.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) lifted his hold on the bill late in the day on Monday, allowing the bill to proceed. When asked about the reasons for his delay, the Senator rather mysteriously said, “it’s sort of the internal workings of the Senate.” Lifting the hold allowed Sen. Leahy to go to the floor and secure the unanimous consent of the Senate.

Important FOIA reform bill passes Senate Judiciary Committee, but is being held up by one senator

Adam Marshall | Freedom of Information | Commentary | December 4, 2014
Commentary
December 4, 2014

Update: as of the end of the day on Dec. 4, Senator Coburn has reportedly lifted his hold on the bill, although it is now being reported that Senator Rockefeller (D-WV) is holding it up.

The Senate is poised to take action on the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014, which would make great improvements to the Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but the bill is inexplicably being held up by a single senator.

Letter to DOJ, FBI regarding Seattle FBI media impersonation

November 6, 2014

The Reporters Committee led a media coalition protesting a Seattle FBI effort to use a fake Associated Press news article and web site to ensnare a criminal suspect. The protest letter was submitted to the Attorney General and the Director of the FBI.