A federal judge sided with the National Security Archive in an opinion Tuesday, finding that the CIA must treat the Archive as a member of the news media under the Freedom of Information Act.
The CIA had long classified the non-profit research group as a member of the news media, which entitled it to fee-waivers in FOIA requests. But in 2005 the agency abruptly revoked that status.
The Archive responded with a lawsuit. The CIA claimed in court it had erred in changing the Archive’s FOIA status and said it would correct the issue; but in practice, the agency continued to deny the Archive the favored treatment.
U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler wrote in her opinion: "Despite admissions that it had not complied with FOIA, and despite assurances that it would in the future comply with the law . . . the CIA has continued the very conduct which it admitted was illegal."
"It has twice made highly misleading representations to the Archive, as well as to this Court. Such extraordinary misbehavior can no longer insulate it from accountability."
Kessler then ordered the CIA to treat the Archive as a member of the news media for all pending and future FOIA requests.
"The CIA’s requests that the Court not enter a formal order to this effect — after twice making misrepresentations about its intentions," Kessler said, "is truly hard to take seriously."