CISPES v. Sessions – Government Misconduct – CCR Docket 1989-1990

In response to the massive government investigation of the Committee in Solidarity With the People of El Salvador (ClSPES) un­covered by the CCR through Freedom of Information Act requests, the CCR filed a class action lawsuit in federal court in Washing­ton, D.C., in mid-November 1988 on behalf of CISPES, its members, and other individu­als and organizations. The suit seeks to prevent the FBI from further using or dis­seminating records obtained as a result of its illegal 1983-1985 “foreign counter-intelli­gence/terrorism” investigation of  plaintiffs. It also seeks to force the FBI to retrieve any previously disseminated information and to have all of the ClSPES related files sealed and placed in the  National Archives.

The suit complains that the overly broad investigation was initiated without a proper foundation, and that the retention of the records related to the investigation and the continuing threat of further use and dis­semination violates plaintiffs’ First Amend­ment rights to free speech and association and the Privacy Act which forbids the maintenance of records about how individuals exercise rights protected by the First Amendment.

Two motions are currently pending before the court: plaintiffs’ motion for class certifi­cation to enable them to represent all of the individuals and organizations who were subjected to the illegal surveillance and record keeping; and a government motion to dismiss the complaint. We hope to begin discovery, subpoenaing documents, and ex­amining government officials as soon as these motions are decided. A report on the CISPES investigation recently released by the Senate Intelligence Committee fully supports the relief requested in the suit.

Margaret Ratner, Michael Ratner, with Alan Leuine and Melvin L. Wulf, Joe K. Crews, James Klimaski