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MuckRock sues the CIA for denying Freedom of Information Act requests

MuckRock sues the CIA for denying Freedom of Information Act requests


Crowdsourced investigation site takes on US spy agency

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MuckRock, a website where citizens and journalists can easily submit public information requests to government agencies, just announced it's suing the CIA under the Freedom of Information Act.

"The Central Intelligence Agency has a track record of holding itself apart from, and largely above, the Freedom of Information Act, consistently ignoring deadlines, refusing to work with requesters, and capriciously rejecting even routine requests for what should be clearly public information," MuckRock says.

MuckRock is suing over seven unfulfilled requests

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) says that citizens have a right to records kept by federal agencies. Many states have their own versions of FOIA.

MuckRock's lawsuit focuses on seven requests that the agency has ignored, as well as the agency's habit of requesting excessive detail when asked to produce email records. The CIA requires all requests for emails to specify the timeframe, subject line, and to and from fields.

"This practice replaces the required functional test for whether or not a request reasonably describes the records sought with a per se test that automatically rejects any request for email records based on whether or not it includes all four pieces of information, virtually ensuring that vast amounts of CIA email records go unprocessed and unreleased," MuckRock writes.

MuckRock will be represented pro bono by Kel McClanahan of National Security Counselors. The site was founded four years ago by four journalists and entrepreneurs. It provides a template that requesters can submit through the site as well as personal guidance from the staff starting at $20 for five requests. It has processed more than 10,000 requests.

This is MuckRock's first time filing a lawsuit. Naturally, it published the complaint in full.