Ninety-two destroyed videos in the CIA’s custody and possible waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah, along with a photo of Zubayadah, have been declared exempt from FOIA disclosure. Although the ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, and other related organizations have in previous cases won over 150,000 documents on the treatment of detainees, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled today that the videos and the photo would “reveal the existence and scope of a highly classified, active intelligence activity” and could not be released. The circuit found the former CIA Director Leon Panetta’s statement that the photo contained “TOP SECRET operational information concerning the interrogations” to be persuasive. The plaintiffs cited CIA v. Sims, but the judge panel concluded that the previous ruling did not apply due to the matter of intelligence issues.
Brazil has passed a freedom of information bill that allows for the enforcement of the right to access information. While Brazil’s constitution allowed its citizens to request public information, this new measure will allow Brazilians to litigate their requests through the court. However, the success of this bill is yet to be determined–there is still a lack of regulations on how citizens should request information and how government officials should comply.
The results of the ACLU’s (American Civil Liberties Union) recent FOIA requests show that public schools in Virginia, Florida, and other states have been engaging in sexually-discriminatory practices. These practices include separating classes between boys and girls, offering classes to one sex but not to the other, and failing to provide an equal alternative to gender-based classes. Dividing classes by sex is most often illegal, and in the rare instance that it is legal, there must be an equal, gender-neutral option available. The schools have justified these offenses by referring to highly controversial theories on the differences between male and female brains.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) lost a recent FOIA appeal against the National Security Agency (NSA). The original FOIA request asked the NSA to disclose its correspondence with Google on the issues of encryption and cybersecurity. The NSA responded with a Glomar response, neither affirming nor denying any communication on the issue. EPIC challenged that decision and lost in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The appeal was before Senior Circuit Judge Ginsburg, Circuit Judge Brown, and Circuit Judge Kavanaugh.
In response to the FOIA requests from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the US Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office (ICE) recently released its proposals to begin DNA testing of children ages 14+ that are detained. These juveniles are in consideration because they correspond with the age group that gets fingerprinted after detention. However, ICE is also considering plans to begin gathering DNA samples from children younger than 14.