The Associated Press filed suit today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in an effort to force the State Department to release Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The wire service made Freedom of Information Act requests to the State Department as long as five years ago with no records released.
The FOIA requests and lawsuit seek materials related to her public and private calendars, correspondence involving longtime aides likely to play key roles in her expected campaign for president, and Clinton-related emails about the Osama bin Laden raid and National Security Agency surveillance practices.
“After careful deliberation and exhausting our other options, The Associated Press is taking the necessary legal steps to gain access to these important documents, which will shed light on actions by the State Department and former Secretary Clinton, a presumptive 2016 presidential candidate, during some of the most significant issues of our time,” said Karen Kaiser, AP’s general counsel.
Said AP Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll, “The Freedom of Information Act exists to give citizens a clear view of what government officials are doing on their behalf. When that view is denied, the next resort is the courts.”
State Department spokesman Alec Gerlach declined to comment. He had previously cited the department’s heavy annual load of FOIA requests — 19,000 last year — in saying that the department “does its best to meet its FOIA responsibilities.” He said the department takes requests “first in, first out,” but noted that timing depends on “the complexity of the request.”
Carroll said the AP intends to file additional requests using FOIA and other tools following the disclosure last week that Clinton used a private email account run on a server on her property outside New York while working at the State Department.
Years-long FOIA delays, unfortunately, have become a matter of course in Washington, as the editor of The Hill has noted lately.
The Hill submitted a FOIA request to the Secret Service on Jan. 29, 2008. The response just arrived — 2,171 days later. #FOIA
— Bob Cusack (@BobCusack) January 8, 2015
State Dept. response to 2007 FOIA request received today (paraphrasing): We regret the delay. We get many requests. You still want this?
— Bob Cusack (@BobCusack) February 5, 2015
Administration denies The Hill’s FOIA request, keeps hundreds of IRS targeting documents secret. http://t.co/OodrS9AEhl
— Bob Cusack (@BobCusack) February 10, 2015
The H. Clinton email controversy should also shed light on how bad the State Dept. is on FOIA requests. There is an 8 year backlog.
— Bob Cusack (@BobCusack) March 4, 2015