Justice Department: FBI Has Started to Process Michael Hastings Documents
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has indicated that the FBI has likely located responsive records pertaining to investigative journalist Michael Hastings, who died in a tragic car accident in Los Angeles in June, and the agency expects to finish processing the records in about three weeks.
DOJ revealed the details in a court filing Tuesday in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit I filed with Ryan Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in FOIA research revolving around the policing of dissent. Shapiro and I both filed FOIA requests with the FBI after Hastings's death for any records the agency may have on the reporter. When the FBI failed to respond our records requests within the 20 business day timeframe as required by law and Shapiro's request for expedited processing within 10 calendar days we sued.
"The FBI has completed its search for potentially responsive records and expects to finish processing the records by September 9," DOJ said in its response, in which the agency requested an extension to respond to our motion for summary judgment due to scheduling conflicts. "The brief extension sought will allow the FBI to complete processing, which would moot Plaintiff’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. Additionally, the additional time will allow Defendant to prepare the appropriate responses to be prepared and filed. The requested extension will not unduly delay adjudication of this action."
Jeffrey Light, our attorney on the Hastings lawsuit, responded to the government's request for an extension arguing that there is an "urgent need to inform the public regarding records maintained by the FBI about Mr. Michael Hastings." As such, our response to the government notes, "the Court should deny Defendant’s request for an extension of time."