IS THE FBI SNOOPING ON POLITICAL GROUPS AND IDEOLOGICAL PUBLICATIONS?

Author:Ciaramella, C.J.
 
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THE CATO INSTITUTE is calling on Congress to investigate whether the FBI is spying on it and other domestic political groups, after public records requests raised the possibility that the Bureau has files on Cato and others.

Patrick Eddington, a research fellow at Cato, has submitted more than 200 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for FBI files on political advocacy groups, civil liberties organizations, think tanks, and publications across the political spectrum. For about two dozen of those requests so far, the FBI said it could neither confirm nor deny whether it had collected national security or foreign intelligence records. Those organizations include the Campaign for Liberty started by former Rep. Ron Paul (R--Texas); a grassroots privacy-rights group called Restore the Fourth; the Cato Institute; and Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this magazine

The well-worn "can neither confirm nor deny" phrase is known as a "Glomar response." The term originated in a 1975 FOIA lawsuit by a Rolling Stone journalist seeking CIA records on the Glomar Explorer, a salvage ship the spy agency used in an attempt to recover a sunken Soviet nuclear submarine. A federal judge ruled that the CIA could refuse to acknowledge the existence of such records if doing so would in and of itself compromise national security. The Glomar doctrine has since spread to other federal agencies and trickled down to state and local...

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