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Judicial Watch sues for documents on DNI adviser linked to Chinese firm

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Judicial Watch,Huawei,James Clapper,Transparency,FOIA,Kevin Daley

Judicial Watch is suing the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for access to documents related to a senior adviser who resigned due to close ties with a Chinese company seen as an espionage threat.

The adviser, Theodore Moran, left the DNI's office last September after officials learned he had served China-based Huawei Technologies as a paid consultant since 2010. His resignation came after Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., complained to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper that Moran's work with Huawei "compromises his ability to advise your office."

Wolf's concerns were substantiated by an October 2012 House Intelligence Committee report, which asserted the company's relationship with the Chinese government rendered Huawei a potential “major perpetrator of cyber espionage” concluding that Huawei "cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus poses a security threat to the United States and to our systems."

Judicial Watch filed its lawsuit on April 24 after DNI failed to respond to a Dec. 18 Freedom of Information Act request requesting access to Moran's personnel forms, as well as all documents and memoranda he produced after Jan. 1, 2007. Clapper's office refuses to answer questions on the matter, citing the federal Privacy Act.

The latest lawsuit, coming after yet another lack of response or denial of a FOIA, is part of a disturbing pattern for the Obama administration.

A March study published by the Associated Press found the instances in which government cites national security in withholding FOIA document requests increased 57 percent between 2011-2012. The figure, 8,496 is more than double the administration's first year, where the exception was used 3,658 times, according to the study.

In 2011, the Justice Department argued that the Supreme Court should abandon decades of privacy jurisprudence, which finds that exceptions to FOIA should be "narrowly construed" in the interest of transparency and full disclosure. "We do not embrace that principle," said Anthony Yang, an attorney in the solicitor general's office representing the government. "Even though we did?" retorted a shocked Justice Antonin Scalia.

Editor's note: Judicial Watch is representing the Washington Examiner in the newspaper's federal lawsuit seeking access to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau records under FOIA.

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Kevin Daley

Special to the Examiner
The Washington Examiner