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Tag: FOIA

CIA Refuses to Discuss Large Art Collection inside Its Headquarters

CIA Headquarters

CIA Headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The CIA isn’t exactly open about its operations for obvious reasons.

But the intelligence agency has another secret – a large collection of art inside its headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

CNN reports that an Oregon artist has been trying to finding out what paintings are on the walls of the fortified building for seven years, but she hasn’t been able to get any answers.

“My interest in the project began in 2008,” 42-year-old Joby Barron told CNN via e-mail. “I came across a Taryn Simon photograph from her series ‘American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar.’ The photo was of two abstract paintings in the CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. I was instantly intrigued — why did the CIA have these pieces? I wondered what other art they might have and if it was available to the public.”

What Barron knows is that an art-collected named Vincent Melzac offered to loan his collection to the CIA during secret discussions.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Demands Photo ID for Public Records Under New eFOIA Platform

fbi-logBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI launched a new online tool for Freedom of Information Act requests, but critics argue the disclosure requests have been made more difficult, Fed Scoop reports.

At issue are new conditions for requesting records, which include submitting a copy of a government-issued photo ID.

When the FBI launched their new eFOIA platform Monday, the bureau said the process of obtaining records would be streamlined.

Fed Scoop wrote:

However, listed in the terms are some new stipulations that have government transparency groups crying foul. For the FBI to consider a request, a photo of a government-issued ID has to be included with the request so that, according to the bureau, the FBI can be “confident in the identity of the requester.”

The bureau “just made that [requirement] up out of thin air,” Steven Aftergood, the director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, told FedScoop. “The new FBI terms of service exceed what the law requires and allows.”

The ID requirement goes well beyond the directions listed in the Justice Department’s FOIA guide. That guide, even for filings that require a confirmation of identity — such as a request for the requestor’s own FBI file — states that a notarized declaration by the requestor is sufficient.

“The FOIA itself makes clear that it can be used by ‘any person’ who invokes its provisions,” Aftergood said. “One doesn’t even need to be a U.S. citizen. So there is no basis for the FBI to require a government-issued ID.”

Researcher Sues FBI for Long-Withheld Records About Ex-First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt/Wikimedia

Eleanor Roosevelt/Wikimedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A lot of secrecy still shrouds the FBI’s past obsession with former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

AllGov.com reports that the FBI has refused to disclose records detailing her trip to the Soviet Union in 1957 and 1958.

Former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover believed Roosevelt was a Communist sympathizer.

Now a researcher with George Washington University is suing the FBI for the records under the Freedom of Information Act.

The files contain “charges against her for suspected Communist activities, threats to her life on the grounds of her disloyalty to the country, close monitoring of her activities and writings, and a record of possible insurrectionary groups that she may have influenced.”

Senators Work on Legislation to Require FBI to Disclose ‘All’ Records to Watchdogs

Sen. Grassley

Sen. Grassley

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Inspectors general are the watchdogs of federal agencies like the FBI, but they have been stymied by a bureau that has declined to turn over critical records during investigations.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Wednesday that the FBI is obligated to follow the law as he works on legislation that would require the bureau to cooperate with IGs, The Daily Caller reports. 

The legislation, which would ensure IGs have the right to access all federal records, comes after the FBI has delayed disclosing records of wiretaps and grand juries and occasionally even filtered the records.

“I think we need a more permanent solution, one that ensures IGs have access to the records they need to do their job, and I will work closely with Sen. Grassley to craft a legislative solution,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who is the committee’s ranking minority member.

Oscar-Winning Director Sues Justice Department for Public Records of Her Airport Datainments

Laura Poitras

Laura Poitras

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Oscar-winning Laura Poitras is suing the Justice Department and other federal agencies after they have denied her access to public records documenting the dozens of times she said she has been questioned and searched at airports, Variety reports. 

The “Citizenfour” director claims in the lawsuit that she has been detained every time she entered the country from 2006 to 2012 to work on her documentary.

Fed up with being targeted, she filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain records about those incidents.

She said that her requests have been virtually ignored.

Gawker Wins Lawsuit Against FBI for Records on Hulk Hogan’s Sex Tape

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The online news site Gawker won a lawsuit against the FBI to obtain evidence connected to an FBI investigation of Hulk Hogan’s sex tape.

The evidence has been important to Gawker since it was sued by Hogan for posting footage of a sex tape featuring the wrestler.

The FBI was investigating a Los Angeles attorney’s attempted sale of the Hogan video but has since closed the probe.

A federal judge in Florida said the bureau is required to turn over the records.

The FBI maintained the evidence was exempt from disclosure laws because it would invite the privacy rights of Hogan and his partner.

FBI, Marshals Service Bestowed ‘Black Hole Award’ for Refusing to Disclose Records

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

It’s not an award to celebrate.

The Utah Headlines Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists bestowed the Black Hole Award to the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI.

The Deseret News published a letter to the Attorney General from the journalist group.

The group explained that the agencies won the award for refusing to disclose any information about the April 21, 2014, shooting at a federal courthouse in Salt Lake City.

The shooting by a U.S. marshal killed defendant Siale Angilau, and the case was investigated by the FBI.

“Those few facts and that the Department of Justice elected not to prosecute the marshal comprise what we know,” the group wrote. “No one at the Marshals Service or the FBI will answer more questions. The Marshals Service has denied multiple requests made for documents under the Freedom of Information Act. A request to the FBI has been pending for a year.”

Judge: Homeland Security violated FOIA by Refusing to Respond to Request for Records

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The Homeland Security Department violated the Freedom of Information Act by refusing to disclose records about the telephone costs for immigrant detainees, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Chief Judge Marsha Penchman criticized the department for essentially ignoring a request from Prison Legal News, the Associated Press reports.

The judge said the department failed to respond within the required 20 days and even ignored a second request.

Under President Obama, federal agencies have been stubborn and reluctant to disclose records unless they are sued.

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