Journalist and FOIA advocate sue U.S. government for information on Russian involvement in election

FOIA advocate and journalist have sued four federal agencies for details regarding Russian hacking of the U.S. election. Rationale? Failure to respond to expedited FOIA request.

On Monday, journalist Jason Leopold and Ryan Shapiro, a Ph.D. candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), filed a lawsuit against four federal agencies seeking records pertaining to Russia’s interference in the presidential election as well as records of  “U.S. intelligence agency operations involving any such Russian interference.”

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that the CIA “concluded … that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency.”

On Tuesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CNN he believes “99 percent” of the U.S. Senate thinks that Russia interfered with the 2016 presidential election. Graham said that he and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) plan investigative hearings and sanctions “that hit [Russian President Vladimir] Putin as an individual and his inner circle for interfering in our election.”`

The Obama Administration is reportedly re-examining an April 2015 executive order enabling presidential response to foreign cyberattacks. The nation’s electoral system is not included in that order because it was not defined as part of the nation’s “critical infrastructure.”

Leopold and Shapiro sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Dec. 14 (complaint, pdf). They also sent a second request to the CIA on Dec. 15.

After getting no response to the expedited FOIA request within the legally-managed 10 days, Leopold and Shapiro filed the lawsuit.

Shapiro and Leopold seek these records in order to shed light on critical unknowns such as:

* What information on Russian interference did U.S. intelligence agencies possess, and when did they possess it?

* How did this information differ by agency?

* How did analysis of this information, and response proposals based upon that analysis, differ by agency?

* How did U.S. intelligence agencies communicate and coordinate with each other regarding the issue of Russian interference?

* Both officially and unofficially, how did U.S. intelligence agencies communicate and coordinate with outside entities and individuals regarding the issue of Russian interference?

Shapiro is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) at MIT as well as a research affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

Leopold is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been published at Al Jazeera English and Al Jazeera America, CBS Marketwatch, Salon, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, The Wall Street Journal, and Vice News.

Shapiro, along with Jeffrey Light, an attorney specializing in FOIA, created Operation 45, a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization dedicated to litigating FOIA lawsuits in the public interest. Specifically, Operation 45 is committed to transparency and accountability for the administration of Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States.
Update from TheAtlantic:

Back in September, Adam Schiff, the leading Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a statement accusing Russian intelligence agencies of hacking Democratic Party institutions. “Americans will not stand for any foreign government trying to influence our election,” they declared. “We hope all Americans will stand together and reject the Russian effort.”

Featured image from SparrowMedia

By Kathy E. Gill

Digital evangelist, speaker, writer, educator. Transplanted Southerner; teach newbies to ride motorcycles! @kegill

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