In Other News

The National Security Archive filed suit against the Central Intelligence Agency after the CIA began imposing costs to process Freedom of Information Act requests that it said were not “newsworthy” and therefore not entitled to a fee waiver. By interposing its own editorial judgment in the FOIA process, the CIA in effect is “trying to close off use of the FOIA by journalists,” said Archive General Counsel Meredith Fuchs. See “CIA Claims the Right to Decide What is News,” June 14.

The ACLU filed suit against the Pentagon seeking disclosure of information about the TALON (Threat and Local Observation Notice) database, which has been used improperly to store information on domestic political activities. See “ACLU tries to force Pentagon to turn over records on peace groups” by Drew Brown, Knight Ridder Newspapers, June 14.

In almost every lawsuit against the government in which an agency invokes the “state secrets” privilege, the courts end up dismissing the entire case. “But that’s not the way it has to be,” wrote constitutional scholar Louis Fisher of the Law Library of Congress in a new op-ed. “Judges have a constitutional duty to function as neutral referees to allow each side to present its case fairly.” See “Give judges a peek at secrets” by Louis Fisher, Los Angeles Times, June 14.

“The Pentagon has stopped releasing its assessment of the number of Iraqi army units deemed capable of battling insurgents without U.S. military help,” in what appears to be a clear instance of politically-motivated secrecy. “The decision to stop making the information public came after reports showed a steady decline in the number of qualified Iraqi units.” See “U.S. mum on strength of Iraqi troops” by Eric Rosenberg, Hearst Newspapers, June 12.

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