Government Refuses to Answer if Agencies Purchased Data on Members of Congress; PPSA Plans to Appeal to Get Response
The Project for Privacy and Surveillance Accountability announced today that the government informed our organization that it will not respond in any way to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request concerning the possibility that agencies are buying data on current and former Members of the House and Senate judiciary committees.
“The government doesn’t want to even entertain our question,” said Gene Schaerr, PPSA General Counsel. “What do they have to hide?”
On July 27, 2021, PPSA filed this FOIA request with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and other intelligence agencies concerning the possible purchases of information on 110 House and Senate judiciary committee members. The list of representatives in the request include Jerrold Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; ranking member Jim Jordan; Sen. Dick Durbin, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; and ranking member Sen. Chuck Grassley. The list includes many leading lights of both parties, from current Vice President Kamala Harris to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both former Members of Congress.
“The government’s answer to us is known as a Glomar Response, essentially a non-denial denial in which the government refuses to even entertain the question,” Schaerr said. “The next remedy available to PPSA under law is to file an administrative appeal to force the government to answer us, which we intend to do shortly.
“This troubling refusal gives all the more reason for Congress to pass the Fourth Amendment Is Not for Sale Act, which would ban such surveillance from purchased data,” Schaerr said. “If Vice President Harris and Gov. DeSantis are potentially having their constitutional rights violated, imagine how little protection you and I have.”