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This week’s round-up: FBI gets shady on dark web bust, records show Trump trips cost thousands, and Texas comes down hard on public records violations
For this week’s FOIA round-up, the Federal Bureau of Investigation claims it can withhold footage of a dark web bust it had already made public, Secret Service records show a five-figure bill for a First Family visit to a Trump International Hotel in Canada, and a rare indictment for violating public records laws gets handed down in Texas.
A recently released Federal Bureau of Investigation file, which the Bureau previously said they couldn’t find any record of, sheds a sliver of light on an enduring Watergate mystery: the contents of E. Howard Hunt’s White House safe, which was cracked open and its contents eventually given to the FBI after the Watergate arrests. In typical fashion for matters that touch on the Central Intelligence Agency (including anything involving Hunt), the answers offered up by the FBI file raise additional questions when they’re interrogated.
While the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s track record with FOIA has never been good, it’s hard not to argue that it has recently gotten exponentially worse. In just the last few years, the Bureau has thrown out thousands of FOIA requests because there were too “burdensome,” investigated FOIA requesters, redacted the names of fictional characters and engaged in questionable fees practices. However, just last month, the FBI hit a new low and declared that - contrary to all statute and case law - the dead have an expectation of privacy.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation file on famed artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky documents what appears to be a 1964 investigation into the wife of one of Minsky’s acquaintances, whom the Bureau suspected of being a Soviet spy. Though details are scarce and redactions heavy, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor does manage to add some fuel to an ancient Ivy League rivalry.
When the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s FOIA office in the Records Management Division prepares to release a file that it deems significant, newsworthy or controversial, it issues what’s known as a High Visibility Memoranda. These memos, circulated to different parts of the Bureau and often to the Director’s Office as well as outside agencies, outline the proposed releases and their possible fallout. A recent release of over 500 pages of these memos serves as a list of files for FOIA requesters to file new requests for so the files can be published online, as well as showing government reactions to the requests themselves.
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