Judicial Watch Sues FBI to Obtain the Late Senator Kennedy’s FBI File
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) to obtain the FBI file of the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, who died in August 2009 from brain cancer. According to the complaint, filed on June 9, 2010, Judicial Watch seeks access to the following:
A. Any and all records concerning, regarding, or relating to a deceased individual named Edward Moore “Ted” Kennedy. This individual was born on February 22, 1932 in Boston, Massachusetts and died on August 25, 2009. As part of this request, Judicial Watch requested that Defendant search its automated indices, its older general (manual) indices, and its Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Data Management System (EDMS).
B. Any and all records of communications, consultations, correspondence, or contacts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with family members of Ted Kennedy, friends of Ted Kennedy, or advisors to the family members of Ted Kennedy concerning, regarding, or relating to the release of Ted Kennedy’s “FBI File.”
On May 19, 2010, the FBI acknowledged receiving Judicial Watch’s FOIA request. On May 20th, the FBI indicated the records had been processed and would be available on the FBI’s website on May 28th. However, as of the date of Judicial Watch’s complaint no documents had been released.
On April 12, 2010, The Boston Globe reported that the FBI had decided to allow the Kennedy family to object to the release of certain documents citing privacy concerns: “Edward M. Kennedy’s family will be given a rare opportunity to raise objections before the public disclosure of thousands of pages of the late Massachusetts senator’s exhaustive and secret FBI file, according to bureau officials and advisers to the family.”
The Boston Globe notes that there are “no formal guidelines” for consulting the Kennedy family on the release of the documents. Decisions will be made on a case by case basis. However, “Embarrassing information about Kennedy…could be withheld if the bureau doubts its factual basis, it is part of an ongoing investigation, or officials determine there is no reasonable need for the public to know it. In addition, the family, possibly on the advice of its lawyers, could persuade the FBI to remove it.” Obama “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg is reportedly representing the Kennedy family in the matter.
“Senator Kennedy was one of the most controversial and scandal-ridden politicians in U.S. history and there are important lessons to learn from the legacy of corruption he left behind. The FBI must be transparent in its communications with the Kennedy family so the American people can be certain there is no corruption in the disclosure process. We fear that Kennedy’s file is being scrubbed. The FBI should lean towards the presumption of disclosure as FOIA law requires,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.