The ACLJ FOIA Practice Presses Forward; Government Accountability Project Updates from the Frontlines


Benjamin P. Sisney

April 3, 2020

The ACLJ remains fully engaged in our work to ensure government accountability, and this includes our state and federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) practice.

While government agencies are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and much of FOIA processing has been placed on hold until things return to normal, the ACLJ continues to monitor the nation for developments effecting our core issues: life, Israel, religious liberty, and government corruption.

Over the past few months, the ACLJ has continued litigating in federal court to hold government agencies accountable to the people.

In September 2019, the ACLJ filed a federal lawsuit against the FBI in Washington, D.C. The case is ACLJ v. FBI, 19-cv-2643 (D.D.C.). This is the case to uncover evidence of fired FBI Director Comey’s circle of corruption and spies placed in the White House. If these Deep State agencies will not comply with the law until a federal court forces them to, then we’ll keep filing federal lawsuits and taking them to court. After we took the FBI to court, they began processing our requests and producing documents.

In September 2019, the ACLJ submitted records requests to the University of North Carolina  regarding reports it had allowed an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) conference on campus – and had used public funds for the conference. As a result, we received approximately 700 pages of documents which were turned over to our legal team handling Israel and BDS issues.

In December 2019, the ACLJ just filed a FOIA records demand to help expose the abortion lobby’s lie that abortion is safe and should be a constitutionally protected right. The abortion machine is trying to tear up pro-life laws in our country state by state to extend its grip and “double down” on abortion. After all, Planned Parenthood alone has multi-billion-dollar abortion empire to run.

We are exploring similar requests to Maryland government agencies after a failed attempt to enshrine the right to abortion in the Maryland state constitution. In March 2020, our legal team submitted testimony to a Maryland Senate committee in opposition to the bill, and we were there in person when the bill’s sponsor was forced to withdraw the bill. We reported our victory in Maryland here.

In February 2020, the ACLJ submitted FOIA requests to the Army and the Marines, so we could get to the bottom of why these honorable institutions decided to suddenly prohibit Shields of Strength (SoS) from putting Bible verses on military dog tags alongside military insignias – something SoS had been allowed to do for years. We will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

In March 2020, the ACLJ filed a motion for summary judgment against the State Department and the National Security Agency (NSA), in our ongoing lawsuits in Washington, D.C., to hold these agencies accountable for the unmasking of American citizens associated with the Trump Campaign. The cases are ACLJ v. NSA, 17-cv-1425 (D.D.C.), and ACLJ v. State Dept., 17-cv-1991(D.D.C.). These two cases have been consolidated. Briefing continues, with the agencies’ responses due April 20, 2020, and our reply due May 18, 2020.

We continue to litigate several additional federal lawsuits enforcing the FOIA laws against reticent government agencies. In one case, ACLJ v. Dept. of State, 16-cv-1355 (D.D.C.), we await a court decision on a motion for summary judgment concerning the State Department’s excessive redactions in documents it produced.

In others, like our lawsuit about the Clinton Foundation’s cozy relationship with Hillary Clinton’s State Department, ACLJ v. Dept. of State, 16-cv-1975 (D.D.C.), and our lawsuit about the infamous Uranium One scandal, ACLJ v. Dept. of State, DOJ, FBI, and Dept. of Treasury, 18-cv-374 (D.D.C.), court-supervised monthly productions continue. The Clinton Foundation FOIA lawsuit has a court hearing set in May 2020. The Uranium One FOIA lawsuit has a court filing due in June 2020.

The ACLJ’s FOIA practice is quite active. Over the past few years, the ACLJ has diligently engaged the tools provided by the federal FOIA and state-level equivalents.

  • To date, we have obtained nearly 20,000 pages of documents. All but approximately 1,000 of those pages were obtained only after filing suit.
  • The ACLJ has submitted a total of at least 74FOIA requests.
  • The ACLJ’s FOIA requests have been issued on approximately 30 different topics
  • These requests have been sent to more than 20 different federal and state government agencies.
  • The ACLJ has filed nearly a dozen federal lawsuits to enforce the law in our FOIA requests.
  • The ACLJ currently has 5 ongoing FOIA lawsuits in federal court in Washington, D.C.

As we have said many times, Deep State corruption is extensive and federal agencies and departments have repeatedly refused to provide the requested information to the ACLJ as required by FOIA. As a result, the ACLJ has been forced to file federal lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and even file an appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The ACLJ has been successful in obtaining documents in every single case – but not until we were willing to take the agencies to federal court.

The FOIA provides us with a valuable tool to help hold our government accountable. The states also have their own versions of the FOIA, which the ACLJ has utilized as well. It is true that sunshine provides the best of disinfectants, and we must never forget that in the United States, our governments work for the people. To help keep you informed, the ACLJ prepares and publishes a periodic report summarizing our key FOIA-related victories and developments. You can download our latest report and find other key FOIA updates here.

The newest FOIA Quarterly Report will be released soon. In that report, we will cover the highlights of our FOIA practice from the past few months. Subscribe to our email updates, follow us on our social media, and check our website regularly to get our critical updates.