FOIA lawsuit

June 25, 2019 – Judicial Watch Sues CIA for Inspector General’s report on Mena, Arkansas, airport drug, arms smuggling allegations

Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport (Credit: Michael Cate/Catemedia)

Judicial Watch announced today it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CIA seeking the CIA Inspector General’s November 1996 report related to a drug-running, arms smuggling and intelligence operation involving Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport in Arkansas.

The airfield in Mena was alleged to have been used in the 1980s by the CIA during the Reagan administration to smuggle arms to rebels in Nicaragua. A central figure in the operation was Barry Seal, a pilot and drug smuggler for Pablo Escobar’s Medellin cartel who became an undercover agent and informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

In November 1996, then-CIA Inspector General Frederick Hitz absolved the CIA of involvement in the operation.

Hitz at the time said that “no evidence has been found to indicate that the CIA or anyone acting on its behalf participated in, or otherwise had knowledge of, any illegal or improper activities in Mena, Arkansas or the area north of Mena known as Nella, Arkansas.”

Judicial Watch chief investigative reporter Micah Morrison has written extensively on the activities surrounding the Mena airport. In an October 18, 1994, editorial feature for The Wall Street Journal titled “The Mena Coverup” Morrison wrote: “What do Bill Clinton and Oliver North have in common, along with the Arkansas State Police and the Central Intelligence Agency? All probably wish they had never heard of Mena.”

Morrison noted that Seal, who by 1984 was a DEA informant, “flew at least one sting operation to Nicaragua for the CIA.” Seal was murdered in 1986 by Colombian hitmen in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

“The CIA has for over 20 years stonewalled the release of information now sought by Judicial Watch on the Mena Airport controversy,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 6/25/2019)

May 06, 2019 – Former Asst. Sec. of State for Diplomatic Security testifies under oath that he warned Hillary Clinton twice about unsecure BlackBerrys and personal emails

Eric Boswell (Credit: CSpan)

Judicial Watch released the deposition transcript of Eric Boswell, the former Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, in which he reveals that Hillary Clinton was warned twice against using unsecure BlackBerrys and personal emails to transmit classified material. A full transcript of the deposition is available here.

Boswell, who was responsible for securing classified and national security information, stated that Clinton and her staff were “wedded to their BlackBerrys.” Additionally, he stated that he and other former State Department employees “were surprised” that Clinton used clintonemail.com to conduct official government business.

In his deposition, Ambassador Boswell stated:

  • Hillary Clinton and other Senior State Department officials were warned in 2009 that “any unclassified Blackberry is highly vulnerable in any setting to remotely and covertly monitoring conversations, retrieving emails and exploiting calendars.”
  • Clinton was warned again in 2011 that “We also urge Department users to minimize the use of personal web email for business, as some compromised home systems have been reconfigured by these actors to automatically forward copies of all composed emails to an undisclosed recipient.”
  • Clinton assured him that she “gets it” when he informed her about dangers of Blackberries.
  • Clinton and her staff were “wedded to their blackberries” and wanted to continue using them in secure areas even after warning because it was a “convenience issue” to them.
  • He and other former State Department employees “were surprised” to learn that Clinton used clintonemail.com to conduct official government business.  Boswell claimed that they were not aware of such activity while still employed by the government.

Boswell was deposed as part of the discovery granted to Judicial Watch by U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth in response to its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unsecured, non-government email system (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). (Read more: Judicial Watch, 5/29/2019)

April 23, 2019 – FBI official, Bill Priestap, admits Hillary Clinton’s emails were found in Obama White House

Bill Priestap (Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Judicial Watch announced today that a senior FBI official admitted, in writing and under oath, that the agency found Clinton email records in the Obama White House, specifically, the Executive Office of the President. The FBI also admitted nearly 49,000 Clinton server emails were reviewed as result of a search warrant for her material on the laptop of Anthony Weiner.

E.W. (Bill) Priestap, assistant director of the FBI Counterintelligence Division, made the disclosure to Judicial Watch as part of court-ordered discovery into the Clinton email issue.

Priestap was asked by Judicial Watch to identify representatives of Hillary Clinton, her former staff, and government agencies from which “email repositories were obtained.” Priestap responded with the following non-exhaustive list:

  • Bryan Pagliano
  • Cheryl Mills
  • Executive Office of the President [Emphasis added]
  • Heather Samuelson
  • Jacob Sullivan
  • Justin Cooper
  • United States Department of State
  • United States Secret Service
  • Williams & Connolly LLP

Priestap also testifies that 48,982 emails were reviewed as a result of a warrant for Clinton email account information from the laptop of Anthony Weiner, who had been married to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

A complete copy of Priestap’s interrogatory responses is available here. Priestap, is serving as assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division and helped oversee both the Clinton email and the 2016 presidential campaign investigations. Priestap testified in a separate lawsuit that Clinton was the subject of a grand jury investigation related to her BlackBerry email accounts.

“This astonishing confirmation, made under oath by the FBI, shows that the Obama FBI had to go to President Obama’s White House office to find emails that Hillary Clinton tried to destroy or hide from the American people.” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “No wonder Hillary Clinton has thus far skated – Barack Obama is implicated in her email scheme.”

Priestap was ordered to answer the written questions by United States District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth when he ruled in January that Judicial Watch’s discovery could begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. This action came in Judicial Watch’s July 2014 FOIA lawsuit for:

Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency. (Read more: Judicial Watch, 4/23/2019)

April 16, 2019 – Judicial watch files a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ for records of communications and payments between the FBI and Christopher Steele

(Judicial Watch logo)

“Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice for records of communications and payments between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and his private firm, Orbis Business Intelligence.

(…) The time frame for this request is March 9, 2017, to September 27, 2018.

Former Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr testified to Congress that “at some point during 2017, Chris Steele did speak with somebody from the FBI, but I don’t know who.”

This is the latest Judicial Watch FOIA lawsuit in an extensive investigation into the Clinton-funded, anti-Trump dossier and its use to obtain FISA warrants in order to spy on the Trump campaign.

In a case seeking information between January 1, 2016, and March 8, 2017, Judicial Watch previously released FBI records showing that Steele was cut off as a “Confidential Human Source” in November 2016 after he disclosed his relationship to the FBI to a third party. The documents show that there were at least 11 FBI payments to Steele in 2016.

Fusion GPS, an opposition research firm hired by the Clinton campaign and the DNC, reportedly paid $168,000 in 2016 to Steele’s company, Orbis Business Intelligence.

In a related case, Judicial Watch recently released 339 pages of heavily redacted records from the DOJ revealing Bruce Ohr remained in regular contact with Steele after Steele was terminated by the FBI.

“How and why did the FBI pay Christopher Steele, who was already being funded by the Clinton campaign and DNC through Fusion GPS?” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “That we had to sue for this basic information shows the FBI may have something more to hide.” (Judicial Watch, 4/16/2019)

March 23, 2017 – Crowdstrike co-founder and donor to the Clinton Foundation, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank with openly anti-Russian sentiments

Dmitri Alperovitch (Credit: Sebastian Gabriel/picture alliance)

“The cyber security firm outsourced by the Democratic National Committee, CrowdStrike, reportedly misread data, falsely attributing a hacking in Ukraine to the Russians in December 2016. Voice of America, a US Government funded media outlet, reported, “the CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine’s war with Russian-backed separatists. But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report.

(…) The investigation methods used to come to the conclusion that the Russian Government led the hacks of the DNCClinton Campaign Chair John Podesta, and the DCCC were further called into question by a recent BuzzFeed report by Jason Leopold, who has developed a notable reputation from leading several non-partisan Freedom of Information Act lawsuits for investigative journalism purposes. On March 15 that the Department of Homeland Security released just two heavily redacted pages of unclassified information in response to an FOIA request for definitive evidence of Russian election interference allegations. Leopold wrote, “what the agency turned over to us and Ryan Shapiro, a PhD candidate at MIT and a research affiliate at Harvard University, is truly bizarre: a two-page intelligence assessment of the incident, dated Aug. 22, 2016, that contains information DHS culled from the internet. It’s all unclassified — yet DHS covered nearly everything in wide swaths of black ink. Why? Not because it would threaten national security, but because it would reveal the methods DHS uses to gather intelligence, methods that may amount to little more than using Google.”

Hillary Clinton accepts the Atlantic Council’s 2013 Distinguished International Leadership Award. (Credit: YouTube)

In lieu of substantive evidence provided to the public that the alleged hacks which led to Wikileaks releases of DNC and Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta’s emails were orchestrated by the Russian Government, CrowdStrike’s bias has been cited as undependable in its own assessment, in addition to its skeptical methods and conclusions. The firm’s CTO and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank with openly anti-Russian sentiments that is funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, who also happened to donate at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.

In 2013, the Atlantic Council awarded Hillary Clinton it’s Distinguished International Leadership Award. In 2014, the Atlantic Council hosted one of several events with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who took over after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in early 2014, who now lives in exile in Russia.” (Read more: CounterPunch, 3/23/2017)

January 10, 2019 – Judicial Watch to depose former top officials involved in the Clinton email scandal

Judicial Watch announced today that it submitted a court-ordered discovery plan for the depositions of several top former government officials involved in the Clinton email scandal, including Obama administration senior officials Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap.

Judicial Watch “intends to update the Court regarding the depositions of Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills at the conclusion of the 16-week discovery period, unless the Court believes such notice is not necessary.” The plan for discovery is the latest development in Judicial Watch’s July 2014 FOIA lawsuit filed after the U.S. Department of State failed to respond to a May 13, 2014 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). Read the discovery plan here:

December 3, 2018 – Judicial Watch sues for records of FBI meetings with Clinton-DNC law firm, Perkins Coie in 2016

Michael Sussmann (l) and James Baker (Credit: Perkins Coie/public domain)

“Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Department of Justice seeking records of all meetings in 2016 between former FBI General Counsel James Baker and the Perkins Coie law firm. The Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) reportedly paid Fusion GPS to create the “salacious and unverified” Clinton-DNC anti-Trump dossier.

The lawsuit cites a specific media report that FBI top lawyer Baker met with Perkins Coie lawyers to discuss allegations of collusion between Donald Trump and Russia. The meeting reportedly took place weeks before the 2016 election and before the FBI secured a controversial FISA spy warrant targeting then-candidate Trump’s campaign.

Judicial Watch filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the DOJ failed to respond to an October 9, 2018, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-02617)) seeking:

All records concerning any and all meetings between former FBI general counsel James Baker and one or more attorneys from Perkins Coie, the Democratic National Committee’s private law firm during 2016.

On October 4, 2018, Fox News reported that Baker told congressional investigators that Perkins Coie lawyer Michael Sussmann “initiated contact with him and provided documents and computer storage devices on Russian hacking.” The contact was made in late 2016 as federal investigators prepared a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to spy on Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

At the time, Perkins Coie had hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig into President Trump’s background. Fusion GPS paid British ex-spy Christopher Steele to compile the anti-Trump dossier, memos from which were shared with the FBI in the summer of 2016.

The DNC and Clinton campaign’s funding of the unverified dossier was revealed in a memo from House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes which was disclosed publicly on February 2, 2018.

According to an October 24, 2017, report, Perkins Coie lawyer Marc E. Elias retained Fusion GPS in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and DNC: “The Clinton campaign and DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.” Fusion GPS gave Steele’s dossier and other research documents to Elias.

“The real collusion scandal is the hand-in-hand effort by the Clinton campaign and the Obama DOJ/FBI to spy upon and destroy Donald J. Trump,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “The FBI, pulled by the troika of Comey/McCabe/Strzok, became an arm of the Clinton campaign. And our new lawsuit aims to get to the bottom of the massive scandal.” (Judicial Watch, 12/03/2018)

October 19, 2018 – FBI acknowledges using multiple informants in investigation of Trump campaign aide, Carter Page

Carter Page (Credit: Wall Street Journal)

“The U.S. government revealed in court filings Friday that the FBI used multiple confidential informants, including some who were paid for their information, as part of its investigation into former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

“The FBI has protected information that would identify the identities of other confidential sources who provided information or intelligence to the FBI” as well as “information provided by those sources,” wrote David M. Hardy, the head of the FBI’s Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS), in court papers submitted Friday.

Hardy and Department of Justice (DOJ) attorneys submitted the filings in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit for the FBI’s four applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants against Page. The DOJ released heavily redacted copies of the four FISA warrant applications on June 20, but USA Today reporter Brad Heath has sued for full copies of the documents.

Hardy’s declaration acknowledged that the confidential sources used by the FBI were in addition to Christopher Steele, the former British spy who authored the infamous anti-Trump dossier.

“This includes nonpublic information about and provided by Christopher Steele, as well as information about and provided by other confidential sources, all of whom were provided express assurances of confidentiality,” Hardy wrote, referring to information disclosed in the four FISA applications.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 10/20/2018)

October 2, 2018 – Judicial Watch is representing former ONA analyst and whistleblower, Adam Lovinger, and sues Pentagon for records on ‘Spygate’ figure Stefan Halper

Stefan Halper (l) and Adam Lovinger (Credit public domain)

(…) “Judicial Watch is representing Adam Lovinger, a former ONA analyst who claims he was fired because he raised questions about contracts awarded to Halper and to a friend of Chelsea Clinton’s. The conservative watchdog group is seeking ONA records related to Lovinger’s security clearance, which was revoked months after the 12-year ONA veteran began raising questions about the contracts.

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton questioned whether the Pentagon was aware that Halper was spying on the Trump campaign.

“Americans want to know if the Defense Department was working with the corrupt FBI, DOJ and other Obama agencies to spy on Donald Trump in an attempt to destroy his reputation,” Fitton said in a statement. “Our new lawsuit against the Defense Department will help determine to what extent it was helping to finance any Spygate targeting of President Trump.”

It is unclear if ONA funds were used to finance Halper’s efforts to meet Trump campaign officials. But as The Daily Caller News Foundation first reported in March, Halper used academic papers to approach at least one Trump campaign adviser.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 10/02/2018)

August 31, 2018 – The Justice department admits the FISC never held hearings on the Title 1 FISA application for Carter Page

(Credit: A. Hunter/Washington Times)

“Judicial Watch revealed that the Justice Department admitted in a court filing that the FISA Court never held hearings on the FISA applications for former Trump advisor Carter Page.

Judicial Watch said that, in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, the Justice Department (DOJ) admitted in a court filing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) spy warrant applications targeting Carter Page, a former Trump campaign part-time advisor who was the subject of four controversial FISA warrants.

“It is disturbing that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance courts rubber-stamped the Carter Page spy warrants and held not one hearing on these extraordinary requests to spy on the Trump team,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton in a statement.

In the filing the Justice Department finally revealed that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court held no hearings on the Page FISA spy warrants, first issued in 2016 and subsequently renewed three times:

National Security Division FOIA consulted Office of Intelligence … to identify and locate records responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA request…. [Office of Intelligence] determined … that there were no records, electronic or paper, responsive to [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA request with regard to Carter Page. [Office of Intelligence] further confirmed that the [Foreign Surveillance Court] considered the Page warrant applications based upon written submissions and did not hold any hearings.

In February, Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee released a memo criticizing the FISA targeting of Carter Page. The memo details how the “minimally corroborated” Clinton-DNC dossier was an essential part of the FBI and DOJ’s applications for surveillance warrants to spy on Page.

Judicial Watch recently filed a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking the transcripts of all hearings related to the surveillance of Carter Page.” (Read more: Conservative Daily News, 9/01/2018)