Freedom of Information

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.

The failures of the information security infrastructure

Summit considers questions of data encryption and protection for journalists
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Jenn Henrichsen

In an age of big data and mass state surveillance, the rapid expansion of interconnected networks without secure infrastructure is causing concern among many information security experts, lawyers, privacy advocates, and journalists.

To address these challenges and others, information security experts, policymakers, journalists, activists, and military officials convened at the New America Foundation’s inaugural cybersecurity summit in Washington, D.C. on February 23. Amidst the diverse set of topics and speakers, several key takeaways and themes emerged, many of which have implications for the media.

Glomar surfaces in state courts

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Adam Marshall

U.S. Government photo

The Glomar Explorer

On March 1, 1968, a catastrophic incident aboard Soviet submarine K-129, sailing approximately 1500 miles northwest of Hawaii, led to the loss of all people and three ballistic nuclear missiles as the ship sank to the bottom of the seabed, almost 17,000 feet below the surface.

Lynch hearing touches on FOIA issues

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

AP Photo

U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch at her confirmation hearing on Jan. 28.

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.

Reporters Committee urges Virginia legislature to reject execution secrecy bill

Adam Marshall | Freedom of Information | Commentary | February 12, 2015
Commentary
February 12, 2015

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press has sent a letter to the Virginia House of Delegates urging them to reject Senate Bill 1393, which would exempt crucial information on the drugs used in executions, as well as the pharmacies that produce them and any investigations into those pharmacies, from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Virginia FOIA). The bill passed the Virginia Senate Tuesday by a vote of 23 to 14.

Letter to Virginia Legislature on Execution Secrecy Bill

February 11, 2015

The Virginia Legislature is considering a bill that would exempt information on the drugs used in executions, as well as the pharmacies that produce them and any investigations into those pharmacies, from the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. The Reporters Committee argued that this information should not be kept from the public, especially in light of the concerns that have been raised with regards to the sources of execution drugs and the numerous recent botched executions around the nation.

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.

Reporters Committee argues for release of federal mugshots under FOIA

Adam Marshall | Freedom of Information | Commentary | January 23, 2015
Commentary
January 23, 2015

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, along with 36 news organizations, filed an amicus brief last week with the U.S. Court of Appeals (6th Cir.) arguing that mugshots taken by the U.S. Marshals Service must be released to the public under the Freedom of Information Act.

The brief argues that not only is there no privacy right implicated by releasing photos of persons who have been arrested, indicted, and appeared in open court, but that there is a powerful interest in ensuring the criminal justice system remains open to the public.

Detroit Free Press v. U.S. Department of Justice

January 16, 2015

The Detroit Free Press sued the DOJ for the release of mugshots taken by the U.S. Marshals Service under the Freedom of Information Act. The trial court held for DFP, and the government appealed to the 6th Circuit. Our brief argues that neither constitutional nor common law recognizes a privacy interest in photographs of persons who have been arrested and indicted, and appeared in open court, specifically noting that mugshots are open or presumably open to the public under the laws of at least 40 states. The brief also argues that even if there is a privacy interest in mugshots, it is outweighed by the public interest in their disclosure.

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.