CIA: Did you mean these documents? Update: Judicial Watch fights another delay

posted at 10:01 am on July 25, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Lost amid the hilarity of watching Senator Dianne Feinstein do a Cory Booker impersonation by denying she meant what she said about White House leaks was another, and perhaps more significant, retraction.  The Department of Justice had to file a motion admitting that the CIA had found numerous documents that should have been released in a Freedom of Information Act request from Judicial Watch about White House interaction with filmmakers producing a movie about the killing of Osama bin Laden:

The Central Intelligence Agency recently discovered a “4 to 5 inch stack” of documents that relate to the spy agency’s cooperation with the makers of a forthcoming Hollywood film on the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to a new court filing.

The documents about CIA dealings with the film now titled “Zero Dark Thirty” were “inadvertently overlooked” in response to a Freedom of Information Act request and lawsuit filed by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, Justice Department attorneys said in a motion filed in federal court in Washington Tuesday afternoon (posted here).

“The CIA discovered a 4 to 5 inch stack of records potentially responsive to plaintiff’s FOIA request that had been inadvertently overlooked during the CIA’s search,” Civil Division attorney Marcia Berman wrote. “The CIA is continuing to look into the circumstances of the discovery of the new documents to ensure the adequacy of its search.”

Well … oopsie!  This relates directly to the issue around which Feinstein danced yesterday, which is the intentional leaking of national-security information to burnish the reputation of Barack Obama.  Judicial Watch sued for documentation that related to official contacts between the administration and the filmmakers, as speculation grew that not only did the White House give unprecedented access in order to make itself look good in the cinema, but that the access would allow the film to get released before the election.  (The filmmakers pushed the release date back after the controversy erupted.)

We’ll have to see whether Judicial Watch gets any answers from these documents, assuming they do get released.  It’s pretty certain that JW won’t do a Cory Booker impression, though.

Update: Apparently, the CIA wanted another month to review the stack of newly-found documents, even though they were supposed to comply with the FOIA request by the end of May.  Judicial Watch just filed a motion opposing the request for another month’s delay:

2. Plaintiff’s counsel learned of Defendant Central Intelligence Agency’s (“CIA”) failure to produce all responsive documents by the Court’s May 18, 2012 deadline on July 19, 2012. Defendant’s counsel also informed Plaintiff’s counsel that the CIA would not be able to complete its review and production of the documents until August 24, 2012, and requested an extension of the briefing schedule.

3. On the morning of July 20, 2012, Plaintiff’s counsel informed Defendants’ counsel that a motion for extension of time based on failure to comply with deadlines was improper, and suggested instead that Defendants promptly produce the newly discovered documents on an expedited basis so that Plaintiff could review them and respond prior to the Defendants’ July 27, 2012 deadline to file their Motion for Summary Judgment in this case.

JW is asking for a reasonable timetable that would produce the documentation by August 10th.  We’ll see what the court says.

Update II, 7/26/12: I completely forgot to link my source for the original story — Politico and Josh Gerstein.  My profuse apologies to both.


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