Case Number: 1:24-cv-00009
Court: U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Client: Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Complaint Filed: Jan. 3, 2024
Background: In 2005, 2007, and 2014, the U.S. Department of the Army issued separate updates to guidelines regulating how soldiers publish information about their wartime experiences on military blogs, also known as “milblogs” or “warblogs.”
The 2005 update required all Army personnel and Department of Defense contractors to consult with supervisors before posting information in a public forum. It also directed unit commanders, public affairs officers, and others to conduct quarterly reviews of milblogs to check for actual or alleged violations of operational security rules.
Changes made in 2007 required milbloggers to consult with supervisors and have their content reviewed before posting. They also instituted penalties under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for failure to abide by commanders’ orders regarding the protection of “critical and sensitive information.”
And the 2014 updates made commanders responsible for ensuring adequate operational security training for individuals responsible for reviewing public posts.
In October 2023, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Army seeking all drafts of the guidelines that were generated around the time of each of the three updates, as well as all emails, memos, and other communications related to the updates.
After the Army failed to respond to the request, Reporters Committee attorneys filed this lawsuit against the Army and the Department of Defense alleging several violations under the federal public records law, including failure to comply with statutory deadlines and unlawful withholding of agency records.
2024-01-03: Exhibit 1
2024-01-03: Exhibit 2