Jason Leopold:

Does the FBI have any records on the late investigative journalist Michael Hastings? I don’t know. But fellow FOIA terrorist Ryan Shapiro and I just filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the agency to find out.

Hastings died in a tragic car accident in Los Angeles June 18 at the age of 33. Immediately after the news broke, I filed a FOIA request with the FBI for any records the agency maintained on the award-winning reporter, which is something I do whenever a public figure passes away (yes, I realize some people think that’s weird).

A week later, Shapiro, a doctoral candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specializes in FOIA research pertaining to the policing of dissent, also filed a request with the FBI for “any and all records that were prepared, received, transmitted, collected and/or maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Terrorist Screening Center, the National Joint Terrorism Task Force, or any Joint Terrorism Task Force relating or referring to” Hastings. [I also filed similar FOIA requests with DHS and other government agencies after Hastings’s death.]

The FBI, while acknowledging our records requests, failed to respond within the 20-working day time period with a determination as to whether the agency will comply as required by law. Nor has the FBI responded to Shapiro’s expedited processing request. So we decided to litigate and Jeffrey Light, our Washington, DC-based FOIA attorney, has also filed a motion for summary judgment seeking expedited processing of our federal complaint.

“By suing the FBI for failure to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, [we] hope to obtain records pertaining both to the unusual circumstances of Michael Hastings’s death and to the broader issue of FBI surveillance of journalists and other critics of American national security policy,” Shapiro said.

A few days after Hastings’s death, his friend, Staff. Sgt. Joseph Biggs, told a local news station in Los Angeles that Hastings blind copied him on an email he sent a day before his death that said, “The Feds are interviewing my close friends and associates.” The subject line of the email said, “FBI investigation, re: NSA.”

The FBI issued a rare public statement denying Hastings was under investigation. “At no time was Michael Hastings under investigation by the FBI,” FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said June 21, three days after Hastings’s death.

One thought on “Good

  1. Well, good luck to the self-described “FOIA terrorists”.

    Who knows.

    If they find out what really happened to Michael Hastings, maybe they’ll find out what really happened to Paul Wellstone, too.

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