Homeland Security Privacy Suit Dismissed

The Electronic Privacy Information Center will now go after records of the Department of Homeland Security's operations.

by / May 2, 2003
WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- A court fight over secrecy at the White House Office of Homeland Security has ended with dismissal of the case.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly earlier this week signed a dismissal agreement between the Justice Department and the Washington-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, which had sought records about the office's activities.

The agreement permits the center to re-file the lawsuit if there is a "relevant, material change" in the way the office functions. The Bush administration had maintained that the office was not subject to disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act because its duty is solely to advise the president.

The office continues to exist even though Congress last year voted to create a new, Cabinet-level Homeland Security Department that began operations March 1.

David Sobel, general counsel for EPIC, said Friday that "the action has moved to the new department" in terms of privacy concerns raised by homeland security decisions.

"We intend to very actively pursue Freedom of Information requests at the new department," Sobel said.

President Bush on Wednesday announced that Gen. John Gordon, now the head of an anti-terrorism office at the National Security Council, would become the new White House homeland security adviser. He replaces Tom Ridge, who is secretary of the new department.

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