Pentagon offered ‘FOIA terrorist’ Jason Leopold a stack of documents to just shut up and go away forever

TechDirt: Jason Leopold has so thoroughly aggravated naturally-secretive government agencies that he has earned the nickname “FOIA terrorist.” He routinely files two dozen FOIA requests a week, along with MDRs (Mandatory Declassification Reviews), which force the government to more closely examine documents it has previously withheld in full.

In the course of these activities, Leopold has also filed numerous FOIA lawsuits against government agencies for withholding documents, not performing thorough searches or exceeding the statutory time limits for responses.

Several government agencies hate him. One government agency hates him so much it offered him a one-time deal bordering on illegality.

In his testimony in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Leopold gave up both the agency and its questionable offer.

Leopold: The Office of Net Assessment (ONA) is the Pentagon’s in-house think tank. They spend millions and millions of dollars putting together reports — reports that they contract out about perhaps some futuristic warfare, or what the situation in the Middle East is going to look like with regards to oil. I asked for those reports. I filed a FOIA request; they refused to comply with my FOIA request. They said it was too broad. I narrowed it, they still said it was too broad. I sued them. Recently they said that ‘We’ll give you some documents as long as you promise to never file a FOIA request again and don’t have anyone else file a FOIA request on your behalf.’

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.): How is that legal?

Leopold: I don’t know but they put this in writing and I’m really looking forward to the day when I write this story up.

This is what one agency was prepared to do just to keep Leopold out of its file cabinets.

But it’s not just overt actions like these. It’s the little things agencies do to frustrate FOIA requesters, especially journalists like Leopold who are looking for timely information rather than just information. [Continue reading…]

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