MFF files suit against Biden and NARA

On October 19th, the Mary Ferrell Foundation (MFF) filed suit against President Biden’s plan to release the remaining redactions in the JFKARC. For those confused by all this, a quick look back might be helpful.

In October 2021, President Biden issued a memo instructing Federal agencies with redacted materials in the ARC to get ready to release these by December 15, 2022 or to justify their continued redaction by jumping through an elaborate series of hoops.

Despite the fact that less than two months remain before Biden’s December 2022 deadline, MFF decided to file a complicated suit which I find difficult to summarize. Readers might best take a look at the filing themselves, which is on line here.

Do not be confused about the MFF’s basic demand: they want the redacted material released now, not in December. No agencies should be allowed to jump through any hoops whatsoever: every scrap of text must be released and put on line.

It is of course odd that with such a short time to go before the December releases, the MFF should lay siege to Biden in court, and I venture to guess that the suit is perhaps more of a tactical move rather than the beginning of prolonged litigation.

This is sort of confirmed by Larry Schnapf, one of MFF’s lawyers, who remarked on a Facebook post, “We know the agencies had to submit their requests for postponements past the December 15th deadline by October 1st. This means the White House is already considering this requests. Hopefully the attendant publicity and questions to the white house by the media will pressure Biden to maximize the number of records released.”

After December, it’s harder to say what will happen. I don’t believe that every last redaction in the ARC will be released in December. If so, given the plaintiffs’ views, they may well decide to press on.

Regardless of the legal maneuvering, I will make one sure prediction: news coverage will continue to be as confused and error-ridden as it has for the last four years.

I also predict that will post at least a few more notes on the MFF suit.