BuzzFeed News sues FBI for stonewalling FOIA request on Andrew Breitbart

BuzzFeed and journalist Jason Leopold allege the FBI has not done everything it can to answer request on Breitbart

By Taylor Link
April 8, 2017 9:49PM (UTC)
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The J. Edgar Hoover Building, The Federal Bureau of Investigation headquarters, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015, in Washington. () (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

BuzzFeed News and journalist Jason Leopold brought a lawsuit against the FBI on Friday for inadequately responding to a Freedom of Information Act request on Andrew Breitbart, the Wrap reported.

Filed in a federal court in California, the complaint claims that Leopold submitted a FOIA request with the FBI for "all records related to Andrew Breitbart" on Aug. 7, 2012, five months after the firebrand conservative publisher died at age 43. The FBI responded to the request a month later and said it found no records after searching its "main file records."


Leopold appealed the FBI's response, but was denied by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Information in 2013, the Wrap reported, citing the lawsuit.

“In its appeal decision," the suit read, "[Office of Information Policy] claimed 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,’ including, for example, 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 and Leopold now argue that "nothing in the FOIA statute requires a requester to provide this information before a cross-reference search must be conducted."


“As FBI and OPI are certainly aware," the complaint continued, "Andrew Breitbart was a well-known public figure and is easily identifiable by the FBI in conducting a cross-reference search. As the FBI and OIP are also aware, cross-reference searches frequently turn up records not located in main file searches.”

Alleging violation of the Freedom of Information Act, the suit seeks a court order compelling the FBI to “conduct a reasonable search for records, including a cross-reference search, and to produce all non-exempt requested records.”

Taylor Link

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Andrew Breitbart Buzzfeed News Fbi Foia Freedom Of Information Act Jason Leopold