FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2003
TDD (202) 514-1888
CASE DISMISSED AGAINST WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed last year against the White HouseOffice of Homeland Security (OHS) and its then-head, Gov. Tom Ridge, was dismissed this week in U.S. District Court in Washington.
Last year, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed suit against OHS seeking White House records under the Freedom of Information Act. The government argued that, like the National Security Council (NSC), OHS is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act because it functions solely to advise and assist the President, and therefore asked that the case be dismissed.
On December 27, 2002 the Court ordered a round of discovery. OHS provided documents, declarations and other evidence to EPIC, and was due to file the government's motion to dismiss the case on April 30, 2003.
Earlier this week, however, and two days before that filing deadline, EPIC agreed to have its case dismissed. The dismissal was effective April 28, 2003 when a stipulation by the parties was filed. Pursuant to the stipulation of dismissal, the Electronic Privacy Information Center agreed to be barred from re-filing suit against OHS over the records at issue unless a federal court finds that there has been a "relevant, material change in factual circumstances concerning the function" of OHS. Copies of this week's stipulation and the December court order are attached.
The White House Office of Homeland Security was created by President George W. Bush by Executive Order on October 8, 2001, and first headed by Gov. Tom Ridge. Earlier this year Gov. Ridge resigned from that White House post when he was sworn in as Secretary of the newly-created Department of Homeland Security. On Wednesday of this week, the President announced that Gen. John Gordon, currently head of the Office for Combating Terrorism at the NSC, would be appointed to serve as Gov. Ridge's successor at the White House as the President's Homeland Security Advisor and new head of OHS.