BuzzFeed files FOIA lawsuit against FBI over Andrew Breitbart records: report – The Hill

BuzzFeed News and journalist Jason Leopold are suing the FBI, claiming that the agency failed to adequately respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for material on Andrew Breitbart, The Wrap reported Friday.

The lawsuit alleges that Leopold filed the request for “all records related to Andrew Breitbart” with the FBI in August 2012, five months after the Breitbart News founder died of heart failure. The agency responded to the request in September, saying that they did not locate any such records in their “main file records.”

Leopold’s effort to appeal the FBI’s response was rejected by the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy in 2013, which argued that “the FBI is not required to perform cross-reference searches unless the requester provides ‘information sufficient to enable the FBI to determine with certainty that any cross-references it locates are identifiable to the subject of [the] request,’” according to the lawsuit.

That information, the Justice Department alleged said, would have included “the dates and locations of contacts between the subject of the request and the FBI, the subject’s social security number, or other such information.”

BuzzFeed’s and Leopold’s lawsuit argues that the FOIA statute does not require a requester to provide any of that information in order for an agency to conduct a cross-reference search.

With the lawsuit, BuzzFeed and Leopold are asking the court to compel the FBI to “conduct a reasonable search for records, including a cross-reference search, and to produce all non-exempt requested records.”

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