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Much shock among the conservative community exists regarding the reason provided to deny a FOIA request for information from the FBI.  While grounded in law, the denial has raised the hackles of the public.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for FBI/Justice Department communications regarding the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails has been denied.  The reason provided, lack of public interest, seems flagrant and made up.  It is not.  FOIA while ostensibly allowing a look into the federal government by its citizens does have exclusions and exemptions.

The public interest is weighed against the argument as to why disclosure will allow a view of decision-making and/or government activities.  Exemptions 6 and 7 in the law address this.

In the case of the recent denial of the Ty Clevenger FOIA request for the files pertaining to communication between the FBI and the Justice Department about the Hillary Clinton emails, the assertion that there is insufficient public interest correctly utilizes the FOIA exemptions and exclusions for the public interest.  However, it is farcical to assess that there is little public interest.

A non-profit assisting the journalist community, “Reporters Committee”, provides guidance to journalists on the intent of public interest and the need to argue that sufficient interest exists when making a FOIA request.  It refers to FOIA Exemption 6’s factors — among others — which may impact the public interest in the records:

  • Where disclosure will inform an ongoing public policy discussion regarding the topic of the records, this will increase the public interest in the release. 
  • If the information would confirm or refute allegations of government wrongdoing or negligence, this generally elevates the public interest, but you must “produce evidence that would warrant a belief by a reasonable person that the alleged Government impropriety might have occurred.
  • Asserting “derivative uses” for the information — that is, that the public interest in them arises from the fact that they can be used to obtain additional information from elsewhere — might heighten the public interest in the release.

To be clear, in legal terms public interest according to the “Legal Dictionary” means “Public Interest in a common concern among citizens in the management and affairs of local, state, and national government…”  They attribute this definition to West’s Encyclopedia of American Law.

Anyone who has followed this matter sees an unclear and arbitrary approach to law enforcement.  Thus this is not a matter of prurient public interest, but rather a strong degree of public interest in the legal sense.

Clearly, the use of exemption 6 with a fallacious statement that the request does not have sufficient public interest is an effort by the FBI to obfuscate and continue its deflection of action against what by all accounts is a flagrant violation of federal law.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has become corrupt.  The swamp extends to the FBI.

Read more about it.

The Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 As Amended By Public Law No. 110-175, 121 Stat. 2524

Department of Justice Guide to the Freedom of Information Act

FOIA.GOV

Ty Clevenger FOIA Request