The FBI is ignoring a court order directing the bureau to hand over records relating to murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich’s laptop.
This week, the Biden administration asked for more time to respond to U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant’s September 22, 2022 order telling the FBI to release the evidence. The bureau is also withholding three reports produced by CrowdStrike in 2016 regarding the alleged hack of the DNC servers.
Lawflog.com reports: First the laptop. The FBI wants two more weeks so it can prepare a motion for reconsideration. As a courtesy, we have not objected to the request. According to the government’s motion, “the FBI is uncertain how to comply with the Court’s order as written, and the FBI is seeking input from a pending appellate consultation regarding the order to properly address this issue.”
The order itself is pretty straightforward, at least with respect to Seth’s personal laptop, because it directs the FBI to “produce the information it possesses related to Seth Rich’s laptop and responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA requests within 14 days of this Order.” On the other hand, the order does not discuss Seth’s work laptop, which is also in the possession of the FBI.
I’m waiting for the FBI to explain what it thinks needs to be clarified, then I may be filing my own motion for clarification. Meanwhile, the FBI has cited only one narrow basis for withholding the records related to Seth’s laptop, namely his privacy. I’m not sure why it takes four weeks and an appellate lawyer to figure out why the judge did or didn’t get that issue right.
In any event, I’m reminded of something that I learned almost thirty years ago when I was a newspaper reporter: people with nothing to hide don’t try to hide nothing.
The CrowdStrike Reports
Speaking of “nothing to hide,” FBI personnel originally ignored my request for the CrowdStrike reports, apparently hoping that I wouldn’t notice. After I called them out in front of the court, they produced cover sheets for the reports and nothing more. In fact, even the cover sheets were partially redacted. You can find the cover sheets here, here, and here.
As you can see, each of those reports is preceded by the statutory exemptions that purportedly allow the FBI to withhold certain pages or sections of the report. That’s where things get interesting. Here are the five exemptions in question, with my comments interspersed:
The FBI produced the cover pages in May of 2022, months after it was supposed to have produced all responsive documents. By now, the government should have filed a separate motion for summary judgment asking the court to rule that it does not have to search for or produce anything more related to CrowdStrike. If the government does not file that motion soon, I’ll be filing my own motion asking the court to order production of most if not all of the CrowdStrike reports.
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