June 20, 2019

Times insider: 7 Days, 8 Steps Forward for New York Times Lawsuits Against Secrecy


The Times’s legal department sued the C.I.A. earlier this year for withholding documents about a particularly controversial episode in the agency’s history: a secret mind-control experiment in which C.I.A. employees were covertly given LSD. The suit, brought on behalf of its reporter Scott Shane, is one of nine Freedom of Information Act lawsuits filed by The Times against agencies of the federal government. On Wednesday, the C.I.A. finally released hundreds of pages of documents. They deal with the mysterious death in 1953 of Frank Olson, an agency employee and a subject of the LSD experiment. Mr. Olson died in a fall from a New York hotel. The C.I.A. claimed it was a suicide; the Olson family has accused the agency of murder.


On Thursday afternoon, prosecutors in Pittsburgh raced into court to seal the criminal files of the father of the accused synagogue gunman Robert Bowers; the court quickly granted the request. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reached out to The Times, asking it to join in its effort to undo the sealing. The Times’s legal department worked with the Post-Gazette’s lawyers late into the night Thursday so an emergency motion could be filed Friday morning.

By early afternoon, the court reversed its own decision and ordered the files released. Soon after, the materials were in the hands of reporters.


Later on Friday, The Times’s legal department filed its latest motion to access files in the criminal case against Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer. In October, The Times petitioned the court to unseal the affidavits that the F.B.I. had used to obtain warrants to search Mr. Cohen’s phones, offices, hotel room and residence in April. The Times argued that the materials should be made public now that Mr. Cohen has pleaded guilty. The Times’s filing prompted several other news outlets to bring their own motions for unsealing.

Also on Friday, the legal department filed a motion in federal court to unseal critical documents in a civil rights lawsuit.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/07/reader-center/freedom-of-information-act-decisions.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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