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CIA Gets Sued Over Documents Withheld In Freedom Of Information Request

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands as he arrives to speak about the economy during a visit. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Ethan Barton Managing Editor
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A non-profit government accountability group is suing the CIA for withholding records regarding political appointees’ manipulation of official responses to public information requests.

The suit is being filed by the Cause of Action Institute, which had sought copies of CIA inspector general reports detailing political influence over how agencies respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The intelligence agency has refused to provide the requested documents “without sufficient explanation,” the group said in a statement. (RELATED: New Data Shows Obama Least Transparent President Ever)

“After three years, the CIA has demonstrated it has no intention of providing the requested documents in a timely manner,” Cause of Action Institute President and CEO Judge Alfred J. Lechner Jr. said in the statement. “The current administration has neglected its duties under FOIA and allowed federal agencies to undermine transparency requirements.”

“Despite numerous media reports that have criticized the Obama administration for its poor efforts to ensure transparency and openness, agencies continued to abuse the law and permit political appointees to insert themselves into the FOIA process,” he continued.

The non-profit filed two separate FOIA requests for the documents but the CIA has stonewalled one of them for three years and has twice said it “will not acknowledge or respond to any additional queries regarding” the FOIA request’s status, according to Cause of Action Institute. Agencies are required by law to respond to FOIA requests within 20 business days.

Congress requested several agencies’ inspectors general to investigate any inappropriate influence exercised by political appointees on the processing of FOIA requests. (RELATED: Journalists Tell Oversight Committee: Bureaucrats Make FOIA Process ‘Useless’)

Additionally, a 2009 White House memo ordered federal agencies to consult with the White House before producing any records that involve “White House equities.” Cause of Action Institute recently filed a lawsuit against 11 federal agencies and the Office of White House Counsel over the Obama administration’s consistent delay of responding to politically sensitive or embarrassing FOIA requests. (RELATED: White House Hit With Suit Alleging Systematic Obstruction Of Transparency)

President Barack Obama pledged he would lead the “most transparent administration in history,” but The Daily Caller News Foundation has extensively reported on unprecedented FOIA obstructions that have taken place during his Oval Office tenure. (RELATED: The ‘Most Transparent Administration In History’ Lobbied Heavily Against FOIA Reform)

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