FOIA Lawsuit on Intelligence Community Politicization


Our national security relies on sound, objective intelligence assessments and a workforce performing at the highest of its abilities. Recognizing that high morale and independent, fact-based assessments are critical to its national security mission, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence conducts two annual surveys across the various components of the Intelligence Community that gauge workplace climate and the objectivity of the intelligence analysis process. The ODNI has not, however, released the results of its climate surveys since 2017, or those of its Analytic Objectivity and Process Survey, which measures employees’ perceptions of politicization in the intelligence analysis process, since 2015.

On behalf of national security experts Benjamin Wittes and Scott R. Anderson, Protect Democracy filed a lawsuit to compel the ODNI to respond to FOIA requests for the results of the two IC surveys spanning 2015–2020. Public reports of the Trump Administration’s pressure on the Intelligence Community to find evidence for the unsubstantiated theory that the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese government laboratory in Wuhan raised serious alarms about the last Administration’s willingness to politicize the work of the Intelligence Community. Also concerning was the Trump Administration’s habit of denigrating the work of intelligence officials, whether by alleging a “deep state” conspiracy or publicly contradicting their conclusions.

As our country faces an uncertain global outlook, the public deserves to know the extent of possible politicization in the Intelligence Community’s work and the health of its employees’ morale under the Trump Administration.

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