FBI Refuses to Even Look for Correspondence with Congress on Unmasking
On Friday night, PPSA filed a reply brief in our lengthy sparring with the FBI over its use of the Glomar response to thwart our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for correspondence between Members of Congress and federal agencies concerning the unmasking of Senators and House Members.
In response, the FBI has invoked the ultimate national security trump card, the Glomar response – neither confirming nor denying the existence of such records. In fact, the FBI argues that the mere act of even internally searching for such documents – including correspondence from Members of Congress – would somehow harm national security.
“Clearly, the topic of congressional unmasking is not so radioactive as to require the withholding of every document” that touches on the subject, PPSA told the U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia. In several cases, Members of Congress themselves have referred to such correspondence in public.
PPSA noted that if the FBI’s legal theory holds, even the court filings in this case would need to be suppressed. “But because neither the FBI nor its affidavits offer a logical and plausible justification for a blanket, no-search Glomar response, this Court should hold the agency to its statutory duty” to produce all records that are disclosable.
PPSA states that the “FBI’s expansionist interpretation of Glomar pushes the envelope” and threatens to nullify the Freedom of Information Act as a tool for accountable government.