NFOIC’s State FOIA Friday for May 25, 2012

A few national and state FOIA and open government news items selected from many of interest that we might or might not have drawn attention to earlier in the week:

ACLU sues DOJ for digital surveillance data

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department Wednesday to compel the release of electronic surveillance data dating back to 2010. In the original FOIA request, dated Feb. 15, 2012, the ACLU requested data on pen register and trap and trace devices. Pen registers record all numbers called from a particular phone, according to the suit, which was filed Wednesday in the District Court of Southern New York. Trap and trace devices allow recording of”non-content” information on a particular communications line, such as “to” and “from” lines of emails and IP addresses of websites visited.

Visit Main Justice for the rest.

In California, progress on a bill to open government records

Legislation that would require all California government agencies to make public records available in an "open" format moved forward on Thursday after activists rallied to persuade the state's Senate Appropriations Committee that the requirement would not burden those agencies with millions of dollars in new obligations.

Visit TechPresident for the rest.

Media outlets, open government groups file amicus curiae briefs in support of lawsuit to obtain White House visitor logs

Judicial Watch announced that major mainstream media outlets and open government organizations have joined its legal campaign against the Obama Secret Service to force the release of White House visitor logs. On August 17, Obama-appointed federal Judge Beryl Howell ruled against the Obama administration that Secret Service White House visitor logs are agency records that are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The Obama administration appealed that decision and the lawsuit is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Secret Service (No. 11-5282)).

Visit MarketWatch for the rest.

Town Council members issue FOIA request on New Canaan school budget

Town Council members John Emert and Roger Williams believe they have not been given enough detailed information on the $74 million school budget, which the council passed unanimously on April 17. They're hoping they can obtain the information they're looking for through the Freedom of Information Act.

Visit Acorn-Online for the rest.

WH leaks for propaganda film

As is now well documented, the Obama administration has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, prosecuting more of them under espionage statutes than all prior administrations combined: twice as many as all prior administrations combined, in fact. They are attempting, or have attempted, to imprison whistleblowers who exposed corrupt and illegal NSA eavesdropping, dangerously inept efforts to impede Iran’s nuclear program (which likely strengthened it), the destructive uses of torture, and a litany of previously unknown U.S.-caused civilian deaths and other American war crimes.

Visit Glenn Greenwald at for the rest.


4 Western US states shielding part of executions

BOISE, Idaho — A San Francisco-based federal appeals court ruled in 2002 that every aspect of an execution should be open to witnesses, from the moment the condemned enters the death chamber to his or her final heartbeat. The ruling established what was expected of the nine Western states within the court's jurisdiction. A decade later, four of the states have kept part of each execution away from public view, according to an Associated Press review and death penalty experts.

Visit The Observer-Dispatch for the rest.

Survey shows Nevada politicos support more open government

CARSON CITY, Nev. — There's strong support among Nevada political candidates to require regular reporting by lobbyists of how much they spend wining, dining and schmoozing state lawmakers, according to a new survey released Wednesday. The survey conducted by the Nevada Policy Research Institute and the Nevada Press Association also found that many favor penalties for public record law violations and making the Legislature subject to Nevada's open meeting law.

Visit for the rest.

2nd Circuit upholds FOIA exemption for CIA waterboarding records

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling exempting the CIA's waterboarding records and a photograph of Abu Zubaydah during his interrogation from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. In its ruling (PDF), the New York City-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the act shields such classified material from public view even though President Barack Obama has declared the practice of waterboarding illegal, the New York Law Journal reports.

Visit ABA Journal for the rest.

Foundation at University of Iowa refuses request for records

The University of Iowa Foundation says its emails and expense records are not subject to disclosure under the state’s open-records law, a position that appears to conflict with a 2005 Iowa Supreme Court ruling. The foundation, which maintains $1.1 billion in assets to benefit the university, has rejected The Des Moines Register’s request for emails between its staff and university officials, saying it does “not plan on directly responding” to the request.

Visit for the rest.