In Key FOIA Case Judge Grants Agency Broad Discretion in Leaking Info to Select Journalists, News Organizations
Washington – The CIA can selectively divulge classified information to selected reporters in emails yet withhold that information from other journalists or members of the public when they seek the same information under the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge in New York has ruled.
The decision appeared in the court record on Friday but became more widely disseminated Monday.
The ruling comes amid vigorous national debate over leaks to the media and the use of anonymous sources in covering national security news, including an ongoing FBI investigation into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Judge Colleen McMahon of the Southern District of New York ruled that the CIA does not have to release parts of five emails senior CIA officials sent to journalists from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and The Washington Post in 2012. At the time, the CIA was facing pressure over links it may have had to a Pakistani doctor who helped American forces hunt down Osama bin Laden.
“The Director of Central Intelligence is free to disclose classified information about CIA sources and methods selectively, if he concludes that it is necessary to do so in order to protect those intelligence sources and methods, and no court can second guess his decision,” McMahon ruled.