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Watergate “Road Map” Unsealed After Four Decades, FOIA Raises Questions About Fatal Park Police Shooting, and More: FRINFORMSUM 11/1/2018

November 1, 2018

Long-Sealed Watergate Road Map Released

Chief Judge Baryl Howell of the D.C. Circuit recently ordered the disclosure of the long-secret Watergate “Road Map,” which was compiled by Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski and may provide a possible guide for special counsel Robert Mueller.

Judge Howell ordered the release of the Road Map, “one of the last great secrets of the Watergate investigation,” in response to petitions brought by Lawfare’s Stephen Bates, Jack Goldsmith, Benjamin Wittes, and by former Nixon deputy Watergate defense counsel Geoffrey Shepard. The document was initially compiled by Jaworski (who was appointed after the Saturday Night Massacre) as Congress considered impeachment proceedings, and delivered to the to the D.C. Circuit on March 1, 1974. Chief Judge John Sirica then provided it to the House Judiciary Committee.

The document remained under seal at the National Archives and Records Administration until yesterday and contrasts sharply with the only other example of possible impeachment material presented to Congress – the Starr Report, which was nearly 500 pages and was widely publicized. The Jaworski report consists of a 2-page summary, 53 statements of fact, and 97 documents corresponding to each statement. NARA has a website dedicated to the release, and notes, “Many of the numbered statements and 90 of the supporting documents were published in the multi-volume 1974 ‘Statement of Information,’ hearings before the House Judiciary Committee or have been located elsewhere in the public domain. Redactions in this October 31, 2018, release indicate the statements or supporting documents that could not be confirmed as existing in the public domain and which therefore remain grand jury information protected by Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6(e).”

OGIS Director Gives Good Advice on How to Improve FOIA Shops

A recent FedScoop article by Jory Heckman focusing on the shortage of FOIA officers at a time when demand has never been higher (4,500 FOIA officers government-wide for 800,000 requests) includes a frank discussion with Alina Semo, the director of the Office of Government Information Services, on some of FOIA’s structural problems. Semo addresses news stories of agency employees referring to the FOIA office as “Siberia” and resenting reassignments to the office, saying that keeping agency FOIA shops fully staffed “is particularly challenging the federal government, especially lately where there has been a perception that the FOIA is where employees are assigned as a form of punishment.”

Semo states that a FOIA job series issued by the Office of Personnel Management in 2012 that recognizes FOIA officers as a professional career track and provides a ladder for people who want to make a career out of FOIA is a “good start” – but notes more needs to be done. She says, especially at a time when more agency records are electronic, “Spending some time about thinking how a record can be released at the beginning of the information lifecycle can save an agency scarce resources later in the FOIA release process.”

FOIA Release Raises More Questions About Park Police’s Fatal Shooting of Unarmed Motorist

The Washington Post’s investigation of the fatal shooting of Bijan Ghaisar last year in Northern Virginia after a hit-and-run has gotten a substantial boost thanks to a FOIA request the paper filed with the Fairfax County police.

Ghaisar, 25, was driving his Jeep on the George Washington Parkway when he abruptly stopped and was rear-ended by an Uber. Ghaisar drove off and the Uber driver called the police; Park Police responded first and tried to stop Ghaisar twice – each time with their guns drawn. Ghaisar fled until being stopped a third time and blocked by a police cruiser. Both officers opened fire when Ghaisar tried to maneuver around the police vehicle.  Ghaisar, who was unarmed, died from his wounds in a hospital 10 days later.

The FOIA-released report shows “the Park Police officers had to smash open Ghaisar’s driver’s side window to free him from his vehicle after they shot him.” It also indicates that “Fairfax crime scene detectives soon arrived at the scene but were waved off the case by Park Police investigators. Under state law, the Park Police have arrest authority in Northern Virginia outside of the parks.”

The Park Police declined to confirm the identities of the two officers involved, both of whom are still on the job. “While the Park Police headed the investigation, they treated the mortally wounded Ghaisar as a suspect, his family said, not allowing family members to touch him and to spend 10 minutes per hour with him. They did not notify the Ghaisars of the shooting until more than five hours after it happened, the Ghaisars said. After three days, the Park Police turned the case over to the FBI, which allowed the Ghaisars to spend time with Bijan until he died on Nov. 27.”

Cyber Brief: Cyber Security in the US Legal Code

The Archive’s Cyber Vault’s latest Cyber Brief update focuses on how the U.S. legal code deals with cyber security. The posting includes titles and sections that are key to understanding the complex delegation of legal authorities governing the actions of Federal agencies. They include sections from Title 6 – Domestic Security, such as sections dealing with “Information and Analysis and Infrastructure Protection; Access to Information,” Title 10’s “Authorities Concerning Military Cyber Operations”, Title 50’s “Responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense pertaining to National Intelligence Program”, and much more.

60th Anniversary of Irish Resolution: A Forerunner of the NPT

Sixty years ago, in October 1958, Irish Minister of External Affairs Frank Aiken bought before the United Nations the first version of a resolution addressing the dangers of nuclear proliferation. U.S. State Department officials initially found it “potentially dangerous” and “disruptive,” but three years later the U.S. government voted, with the rest of the U.N. General Assembly, in favor of the “Irish Resolution,” which is widely regarded as the forerunner of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

The National Security Archive commemorated the resolution’s anniversary by publishing for the first time declassified U.S. government documents on developments in U.S. policy toward the resolution – from initial hostility to eventual support – including records of discussions with Aiken and other Irish officials over the resolution and its wording.

TBT Pick – The CIA’s Vietnam Histories

This week’s #TBT pick is a 2009 posting from the Archive’s Vietnam Project Director John Prados and concerns the CIA’s declassified Vietnam histories showing the agency’s involvement in all aspects of the Indochina War. The six volumes released in response to an Archive FOIA request document CIA activities in South and North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in unprecedented detail and shed light on aspects of the CIA’s work that were not well known or were poorly understood. The revelations include:

  • The CIA and U.S. Embassy engaged in secret diplomatic exchanges with enemy insurgents of the National Liberation Front, at first with the approval of the South Vietnamese government, a channel which collapsed in the face of deliberate obstruction by South Vietnamese officials;
  • CIA raids into North Vietnam took place as late as 1970, and the program authorizing them was not terminated until April 1972, despite obtaining no measurable results; and
  • As early as 1954 that Saigon leader Ngo Dinh Diem would ultimately fail to gain the support of the South Vietnamese people. Meanwhile the CIA crafted a case officer-source relationship with Diem’s brother Ngo Dinh Nhu as early as 1952, a time when the French were still fighting for Indochina.

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