(…) Attorney Ty Clevenger is still trying to get at the government’s [unredacted] records regarding Seth Rich and it is still almost impossible. Clevenger’s efforts have helped uncover records to date but because of the FBI’s dishonesty to date with the FOIA requests on Rich, Clevenger wanted to observe the FBI’s review in this case.
This ruling from the Seth Rich FOIA case is disappointing. Judge Mazzant denied Clevenger’s request for in camera review of the documents withheld by the FBI, but he has not yet ruled on the motions for summary judgment, so he could yet order the FBI to search in other places such as email systems. He also took some swipes at the FBI:
It is alarming that in two cases involving substantially similar FOIA requests, the Government can locate zero relevant documents in one, but over 20,000 potentially relevant pages in the other. Moreover, when Congress created FOIA, “it did not intend for production to take years.” Huddleston, 2021 WL 327510, at *3 (citing Hayden v. DOJ, 413 F. Supp 1285, 1289 (D.D.C. 1976)). Yet, here, the Government has spent over two years processing and reviewing records in an attempt to respond to Huddleston’s requests. And despite that amount of time, the Government maintains that the process is “still ongoing.” Even so, while the Court certainly finds the Government’s handling of Clevenger’s and Huddleston’s FOIA requests concerning,
Huddleston’s arguments are insufficient to suggest bad faith for the purpose of determining whether in camera review of all relevant documents is necessary.