A judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled Monday that intelligence agencies do not have to disclose records relating to their “duty to warn” Jamal Khashoggi of threats against his life.
The action was brought by the Knight First Amendment Institute (KFNI) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) against the CIA, FBI, NSA and the office of the Director of National Intelligence. The intelligence agencies refused to acknowledge any documents.
Intelligence agencies are required to warn the intended victim when they learn of credible information indicating a specific threat. The State Department had previously informed the press that the US had “no advanced knowledge of his disappearance.”
The agencies argue the Glomar exemption to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that would allow them to prevent disclosure of the records, whether they existed or not, if it would cause harm. The plaintiffs argued back that the State Department had previously denied the existence of the records, thereby waiving their ability to claim the exemption.
After KFNI dropped out of the lawsuit, CPJ dropped its claims against the State Department. Only the agency being sued itself can waive their Glomar exception by acknowledging the existence of the records. The State Department spokesman even stated, “although I cannot comment on intelligence matters, I can say definitively the United States had no advanced knowledge of Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance.” Since there was no agency acknowledgement of the information, the intelligence agencies do not have to respond to the FOIA request