FOIA Lawsuit No. 5: My Attempt to Access the Secret Report Claiming Snowden’s Leaks Could Damage National Security

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Last month, Shane Harris published a report in Foreign Policy revealing that that the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) prepared a report and concluded Edward Snowden’s leaks and the news reports on the top-secret documents he disclosed could “gravely impact” national security.  

The Foreign Policy report quoted House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, who said in a statement that the DIA’s report confirmed his “worst fears”: Snowden’s “betrayal … place America's military men and women at greater risk."

Rogers and Dutch Ruppersberger, the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, acknowledged that they were citing the DIA report in an attempt to “counter the narrative that Snowden is a heroic whistleblower,” Harris reported, and they were doing so with the Obama administration’s blessing.

But the lawmakers refused to back up their assertions with specific examples of the “damage” Snowden may have caused because the DIA report is classified. 

How convenient.

On Tuesday morning, my Washington, D.C.-based FOIA attorney, Jeffrey Light, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on my behalf against the Department of Defense (DOD) for a copy of the report after the DIA, a component of DOD, failed to comply with my request for the document. 

This is the fifth FOIA lawsuit I have filed against government agencies in as many months. I’m not only interested in obtaining the DIA report so I can write a detailed story about what it alleges, but I’m also interested in seeing how the government intends to explain to a federal judge why the document should remain classified while top intelligence officials and lawmakers continue to characterize its findings on Sunday talk shows and in testimony before Congress.

In a blog post here after Rogers issued his statement January 9, Freedom of the Press Foundation Executive Director Trevor Timm wrote, “Virtually any time newspapers print something the government doesn’t like, they will claim it hurts national security without providing any details or proof.”

“This is standard operating procedure for them, and news organizations should not be scared to push back on such claims, without direct evidence to the contrary,” Timm added.

The FOIA lawsuit I filed for the DIA report is my attempt at push back.

Author's note: Edward Snowden is a member of the Board of Directors of the Freedom of the Press Foundation. I have neither communicated with Mr. Snowden, his legal representative or anyone affiliated with Freedom of the Press Foundation about my work on this lawsuit.

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