News you may have missed #536 (US edition)

James Risen

James Risen

►►US federal agencies sitting on decade-old FOIA requests. In the United States, as Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests are growing, a new study has found that eight government agencies are sitting on requests filed over ten years ago. According to the Knight Open Government Survey, conducted by the National Security Archive at George Washington University, the single oldest request is now 20 years old. FOIA requires agencies to process and respond to a request within 20 business days. ►►US journalist seeks to avoid testifying at CIA agent’s trial. A sizeable percentage of FOIA requests are filed by journalists, who are also on the receiving ends of most intelligence-related ‘leaks’ in the United States. One of those journalists, James Risen, of The New York Times, has been subpoenaed by the Obama administration to testify at the trial of Jeffrey Sterling. Sterling is a former CIA employee, who has been arrested under the Espionage Act for allegedly revealing details about Operation MERLIN to Risen. MERLIN was a botched US effort to provide Iran with a flawed design for building a nuclear weapon, in order to delay the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program. Times lawyers argue that the First Amendment should shield Risen from having to testify at Sterling’s trial. ►►US intel research agency works on 3-D holographs. Also in the United States, IARPA, the US intelligence community’s technical research wing, has announced that it is working on a system that lets intelligence analysts collaborate with each other using “interactive 3-D holographic displays”. Through this system, IARPA hopes that intelligence personnel could take simultaneous virtual strolls through real-life target locations, help plan raids, etc.


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