DOJ Office of Public Affairs Files Related to WikiLeaks Investigation

Kevin Gosztola filed this request with the Department of Justice - FOIA/PA Mail Referral Unit of the United States of America.
Tracking # EMRUFOIA070115-2
Due July 30, 2015
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Kevin Gosztola

Dear FOIA Officer,

This is a request for records under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5), 5 U.S.C. § 552, et seq. I am seeking copies of any records, files or other documents involving or related to the Department of Justice's investigation into WikiLeaks, which were created by the Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs or originated in the Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs between December 1, 2010-July 1, 2015.

This may include records, files or any other documents related to how to respond or handle inquiries from reporters, correspondents, news producers or media organizations related to the grand jury convened in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, Virginia; how to handle Freedom of Information Act requests submitted in relation to the investigation into WikiLeaks; how to respond to alleged reports in the news media, including statements from WikiLeaks staff and persons connected; and any talking points, advisories, bulletins, notices or guidelines developed for public affairs officials to help officials coordinate and handle any public response to developments related to the WikiLeaks organization's ongoing operations.

Relevant materials may also include records, files or any other documents dated as early as December 2010. In the months between December 2010 and May 2011, it is my understanding there were preparations made for convening the grand jury, which would investigate persons connected to the WikiLeaks organization. Any records, files or any other documents preparing public affairs officials for the eventual convening of the grand jury in Alexandria should be considered a part of this request.

A search for records responsive to this request should include, but not be limited to: main file records, cross-reference records, FOI/PA records, etc.

If you deny all or part of this request for information handled by the Department of Justice's Office of Public Affairs, please cite the specific exemptions you believe justify your refusal to release the information or permit the review and notify me of your appeal procedures available under the law.

I respectfully urge the agency to “black out” rather than “white out” or “cut out” material that must be redacted.

I call your attention to President Barack Obama’s 21 January 2009 Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, which directs agencies to adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure and stating that government information should not be kept confidential “merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.”

I am a journalist currently working in a freelance capacity and have previously been a salaried and paid journalist for Firedoglake.com.

According to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii), codifying the ruling of Nat’l Security Archive v. Dep’t of Defense, 880 F.2d 1381 (D.C. Cir. 1989), the term “a representative of the news media” means any person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.

I have a clear intent to “publish[ ] or otherwise disseminate[ ] information to the public.” Id. at 1386 (quoting the following legislative history: 1) “It is critical that the phrase ‘representative of the news media’ be broadly interpreted if the act is to work as expected. . . . In fact, any person or organization which regularly publishes or disseminates information to the public . . . should qualify for waivers as a ‘representative of the news media.’” 132 Cong. Rec. S14298 (daily ed. Sept. 30, 1986) (emphasis in original quotation); 2) “A request by a reporter or other person affiliated with a newspaper, magazine, television or radio station, or other entity that is in the business of publishing or otherwise disseminating information to the public qualifies under this provision.” 132 Cong. Rec. H9463 (Oct. 8, 1986) (emphasis in original quotation)).

Therefore, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and relevant case law, I, Kevin Gosztola, should be considered a representative of the news media and as such I am also requesting a public interest fee waiver.

Please ensure that, in accordance with the DC Circuit’s ruling in Chambers v. Dep’t of the Interior, 568 F.3d 998 (D.C. Cir. 2009), all records potentially responsive to this FOIA request are immediately preserved from destruction until the final resolution of this FOIA action. Destruction of potentially responsive records after the receipt of a FOIA request is considered “contumacious conduct” by the DC Circuit. See id. at 1004.

Under law, your agency must respond to this request within 20 working days. A failure to comply may result in the filing of civil action against your agency in a United States District Court.

Please provide any records that are located or found to be responsive to this request to me in electronic (soft-copy) form.

I recognize that you have experienced a deluge of FOIA requests in the past year. However, I have confidence that you will work to fulfill your job and respond to this request appropriately and in a timely manner, as the law requires.

Thank you for your cooperation. If you would like to discuss this request, please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Sincerely,

Kevin Gosztola

From: MRUFOIA Requests

Mr. Gosztola,

Please see the attached response to your FOIA request. Please note, your request has been assigned tracking number EMRUFOIA070115-2.
Thanks

MRU FOIA

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 1, 2015. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #EMRUFOIA070115-2.

Thank you for your help.

From: Alvarez, Greg (OIP)

Dear Mr. Gosztola:

Attached please find our acknowledgment of the above-referenced request. Thank you.

Greg Alvarez
Senior Government Information Specialist
Office of Information Policy
Department of Justice
(202) 616-9712

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on July 1, 2015. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #EMRUFOIA070115-2.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

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