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FOIA Litigation Produces Letter from Senators Feinstein and Cardin Urging President Obama to Directly Respond to Russian Cyberattacks

Washington, DC —  Today, as a result of ongoing FOIA litigation, the US Department of State and Department of Homeland Security released four (4) documents to the newly formed transparency project Operation 45.  Among the documents released Friday afternoon were records responsive to a November 1, 2016 letter from Senators Dianne Feinstein and Benjamin Cardin wherein the Senators call on then President Barack Obama to take immediate action against Russia for intrusions into the 2016 election, which was at the moment of their letter just over a week away.

As investigative journalist Jason Leopold, a co-plaintiff in the suit, reported for Buzzfeed, the letter “stands as a missing piece to a timeline about Democratic eufforts to encourage the White House to speak out about Russia’s intrusion sooner.”

Included in the released documents are responses from Julia Frifield, Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs at the State Department stating that they, “will not tolerate attempts to interfere with the U.S. Democratic process, and we will take action to protect our interests, including in cyberspace, and we will do so at a time and place of our choosing.”

‘The WASP’ is a Department of Homeland Security Newsletter on Cybersecurity Situational Awareness.

Also included in the documents released is a partially redacted 28-page Homeland Security newsletter on cybersecurity situational awareness titled, The WASP.

In November 2016, investigative journalist Jason Leopold and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) PhD candidate/Harvard Klein Center for Internet & Society research affiliate, Ryan Shapiro submitted FOIA requests to the CIA, FBI, DHS, and ODNI for records pertaining to Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, as well as records pertaining to U.S. intelligence agency operations involving any such Russian interference.

After the agencies failed to respond to their request, Shapiro and Leopold filed a lawsuit on December 26, 2016.  The following documents are the first production of responsive documents since the suit was filed.


  1. Read the State Department Cover Letter HERE 
  2. Read the Feinstein & Cardin Letter + Frifield Responses HERE
  3. Read the DHS Cover Letter HERE
  4. Read The WASP Newsletter on Cybersecurity Situational Awareness HERE

Property of the People
 is anew government transparency non-profit. Their project, Operation 45, dedicated to uncovering records relevant to the public interest concerning the current Presidential administration has been described by The Nation as “a ray of hope in these dark political times.” Operation 45 is on twitter @opfortyfive

Ryan Shapiro is the director of Operation 45 and the co-founder of Property of the People. Politico has called Shapiro “a FOIA guru at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” He is a historian of national security, the policing of dissent, and governmental transparency. Shapiro’s pathbreaking FOIA work has already led the FBI to declare his MIT dissertation research a threat to national security. Shapiro is on twitter @_rshapiro.

Jason Leopold is an award-winning Senior Investigative Reporter at Buzzfeed News, specializing in counterterrorism and human rights. Leopold has been called a “FOIA Terrorist” by federal employees for his aggressive use of the Freedom of Information Act, which includes successfully suing the FBI to force changes to Bureau FOIA practices. Leopold is on twitter @JasonLeopold.

The Plaintiffs are represented by Washington, DC based FOIA specialist attorney, Jeffrey Light.