This week’s FOIA round-up: FBI messed with the Wu-Tang Clan, EPA apologizes to reporter, and California AG threatens reporters over criminal cops
In this week’s FOIA round-up, the Federal Bureau of Investigation messed with the Wu-Tang Clan, the Environmental Protection Agency apologizes to an AP reporter after a FOIA’d video shows her being thrown out of headquarters, and California’s Attorney General threatens journalists who uncovered a list of 12,000+ criminal cops.
A recent FOIA release shows the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Director’s Office responded to FOIA requests for known files on deceased FBI officials by presenting options that seemingly included a law enforcement investigation/proceeding against the requesters, with one email calling the requests “SUSPICIOUS.”
Last year, Emma Best filed a FOIA with the FBI for all records on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Within a couple months, the Bureau responded by claiming they couldn’t find anything. Emma appealed, citing the FBI’s public statements - and just this week, the Justice Department confirmed there while there were records, they couldn’t be released on grounds there is an ongoing investigation.
In October of 2014, then-FBI Director James Comey gave a speech at the Brookings Institute about the “Going Dark” problem, and the challenge of balancing privacy and security in the digital age. In response, MuckRock user Joseph Uchill requested records about how the Bureau specifically planned to address this issue, any potential consequences that might result. Two years later, he got his response: hundreds of pages of talking points, withheld in their entirety.
For the last three years, the FBI has been in the midst of a “partner-public pilot program that opens the FBI Education Center to the public to tell our story through an historical perspective, and outline our many capabilities and future direction.” Part of this program involved a public feedback form, which was easy to request through FOIA, and whose results were scarce, but fascinating.