Edgar et al v. Coats et al
COMPLAINT against All Defendants ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0416-7926763.), filed by Melvin A. Goodman, Richard H. Immerman, Anuradha Bhagwati, Timothy H. Edgar, Mark Fallon. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons, # 3 Summons, # 4 Summons, # 5 Summons)(Rocah, David)
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 1 of 42
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF MARYLAND
TIMOTHY H. EDGAR
RICHARD H. IMMERMAN
700 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Civil Action No. __________
MELVIN A. GOODMAN
5002 Nahant Street
Bethesda, Montgomery County, MD
New York, NY*
Brunswick, Georgia *
DANIEL COATS, in his official capacity as
Director of National Intelligence
Office of the Director of National
Washington, DC 20511
GINA HASPEL, in her official capacity as
Director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, DC 20505
(continued on next page)
In a concurrently filed motion, Plaintiffs Timothy H. Edgar, Anuradha Bhagwati, and Mark
Fallon have requested a waiver of their obligations under Local Rule 102.2(a) to provide their
home addresses in the caption of this complaint.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 2 of 42
PATRICK M. SHANAHAN, in his official
capacity as Acting Secretary of Defense
Department of Defense
1400 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
PAUL M. NAKASONE, in his official
capacity as Director of the National Security
National Security Agency
9800 Savage Road
Fort Meade, MD 20755
COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
This is a challenge to a far-reaching system of prior restraints that suppresses a
broad swath of constitutionally protected speech, including core political speech, by former
government employees. The system, known as “prepublication review,” exposes millions of
former intelligence-agency employees and military personnel to possible sanction if they write or
speak about their government service without first obtaining the government’s approval. Under
this system, government officials review and censor tens of thousands of submissions every year.
As prominent legal scholars have noted, and as the government’s own documents
confirm, the system is “racked with pathologies.” Jack Goldsmith & Oona Hathaway, The
Government’s System of Prepublication Review Is Broken, Wash. Post (Dec. 25, 2015),
https://perma.cc/2JST-ZJ52. Many agencies impose prepublication review obligations on former
employees without regard to their level of access to sensitive information. Submission
requirements and review standards are vague, overbroad, and leave former employees uncertain
or unaware of their obligations. Manuscript review frequently takes weeks or even months.
Agencies’ censorial decisions are often arbitrary, unexplained, and influenced by authors’
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 3 of 42
viewpoints. And favored officials are sometimes afforded special treatment, with their
manuscripts fast-tracked and reviewed more sympathetically. As a result of the system’s
dysfunction, many would-be authors self-censor, and the public is denied access to speech by
former government employees that has singular potential to inform public debate about
This system of censorship cannot be squared with the First Amendment. The
government has a legitimate interest in protecting bona fide national-security secrets, and several
statutes impose after-the-fact criminal penalties on those who disclose classified information
unlawfully. But the imposition of a prior restraint is an extreme measure—one that can be
justified only in truly extraordinary circumstances and, even then, only when the restraint is
closely tailored to a compelling government interest and accompanied by procedural safeguards
designed to avoid the dangers of a censorship system. To survive First Amendment scrutiny, a
requirement of prepublication review would have to, at a minimum, apply only to those entrusted
with the most closely held government secrets; apply only to material reasonably likely to
contain those secrets; provide clear notice of what must be submitted and what standards will be
applied; tightly cabin the discretion of government censors; include strict and definite time limits
for completion of review; require censors to explain their decisions; and assure that those
decisions are subject to prompt review by the courts. The prepublication review system, in its
current form, has none of these features.
Plaintiffs Timothy H. Edgar, Richard H. Immerman, Melvin A. Goodman,
Anuradha Bhagwati, and Mark Fallon are former employees of the Office of the Director of
National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Defense. Between
them, they served in the intelligence community and the military in a diversity of roles for almost
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 4 of 42
a century. All of them have drafted publications subject to prepublication review. Most of them
have submitted written works for review in the past. All of them intend to continue writing
works subject to review. And, without the intervention of this Court, all of them will be forced to
choose between submitting material to an unconstitutional censorship regime and risking
sanction in the future. They seek a declaration that Defendants’ prepublication review regimes
are unconstitutional and an injunction against the application of these regimes to them.
Jurisdiction and Venue
This action arises under the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
This Court has subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 over
causes of action arising under the U.S. Constitution. The Court has authority to grant declaratory
and injunctive relief under the Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201–2202, and under
the Court’s inherent equitable jurisdiction.
Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391 because one Plaintiff
resides in this judicial district and Defendants are officers of the United States sued in their
Timothy H. Edgar is an expert on cybersecurity and a former employee of the
Office of the Director of National Intelligence (“ODNI”). He resides in Rhode Island. He has
submitted written work to the ODNI in the past and at least some of his manuscripts have been
referred to the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) and the National Security Agency (“NSA”)
for additional review.
Richard H. Immerman is a historian with expertise in U.S. foreign relations and a
former employee of the ODNI. He resides in Pennsylvania. He has submitted written work to the
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 5 of 42
ODNI in the past and at least one of his manuscripts has been referred to the CIA for additional
Melvin A. Goodman is an expert on the former Soviet Union and a former
employee of the CIA. He resides in Maryland. He has submitted written work to the CIA in the
past and at least one of his manuscripts has been referred to the Department of Defense (“DOD”)
for additional review.
Anuradha Bhagwati is a writer, activist, and Marine Corps veteran who founded
SWAN, the Service Women’s Action Network, an organization that raises awareness of and
conducts advocacy on issues of sexual violence in the military and gender equality in the armed
services. She resides in New York. She was not made aware of her prepublication review
obligation until recently, and she has not submitted written work to the DOD in the past.
Mark Fallon is an expert on counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and
interrogation and a former employee of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. He resides in
Georgia. He has submitted written work to the DOD in the past, and at least two of his
manuscripts have been referred to other DOD components and agencies outside of the DOD for
Defendant Daniel Coats is the Director of National Intelligence. He has ultimate
authority over the ODNI’s prepublication review regime. He is sued in his official capacity.
Defendant Gina Haspel is the Director of the CIA. She has ultimate authority over
the CIA’s prepublication review regime. She is sued in her official capacity.
Defendant Patrick M. Shanahan is the Acting Secretary of Defense. He has
ultimate authority over the DOD’s prepublication review regime. He is sued in his official
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 6 of 42
Defendant Paul M. Nakasone is the Director of the NSA, which is a component of
the DOD. He has authority over the NSA’s prepublication review regime. He is sued in his
Origins and Metastasis of the Prepublication Review System
Since its establishment in 1947, the CIA has required employees to sign secrecy
agreements as a condition of employment and again upon their resignation from the agency.
Although the terms of these agreements have varied over time, the agreements have generally
prohibited CIA employees from publishing manuscripts without first obtaining the agency’s
In the 1950s and 1960s, when comparatively few former CIA employees sought
to publish manuscripts, the agency handled prepublication review informally through its Office
of Security and Office of General Counsel. In the 1970s, however, partly as a result of the
Vietnam War and the executive-branch abuses of power exposed and documented by the Church
and Pike Committees, many more former agency employees began writing, often critically,
about the agency and its activities. In 1976, in the wake of a Fourth Circuit ruling that allowed
the CIA to enforce a prepublication review agreement against a former employee named Victor
Marchetti, CIA Director George H.W. Bush established the Publications Review Board to review
the non-official publications of current employees. The next year, when Stansfield Turner
succeeded Bush as CIA Director, Turner expanded the Board’s authority to reach publications by
The 1980s were a critical period in the evolution of prepublication review. In
1980, a divided Supreme Court decided Snepp v. United States, 444 U.S. 507 (1980), affirming
the imposition of a constructive trust on proceeds earned by a former CIA officer who had
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 7 of 42
published a book without submitting it for review. The ruling—unsigned and issued without the
benefit of oral argument or even briefing on the merits—was widely criticized by prominent
voices across the political spectrum.
Emboldened by Snepp, in 1983 President Reagan issued National Security
Decision Directive 84 (“Directive 84”), which mandated that intelligence agencies require all
persons authorized to access Sensitive Compartmented Information (“SCI”) to sign a
nondisclosure agreement as a condition of access. The directive provided that “[a]ll such
agreements must include a provision for prepublication review to assure deletion of SCI and
other classified information.” In a 1983 report, the General Accounting Office estimated that the
provision would affect approximately 128,000 people—in addition to an undisclosed number of
CIA and NSA employees.
Directive 84 provoked an intense and bipartisan backlash in Congress. In October
1983, Senator Charles Mathias, Republican of Maryland, proposed a rider on a State Department
appropriations measure to delay the implementation of the directive’s prepublication review
provision. Mathias told the Senate: “We must insure that the free speech rights of our most
experienced public servants are not restricted unnecessarily. . . . [C]ongressional consideration
must precede the implementation of the censorship plan.” The House and Senate agreed, voting
to approve the rider in November. Two months later, Representative Jack Brooks, Democrat of
Texas, introduced legislation to prohibit most agencies from imposing prepublication review
requirements. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Post Office and Civil Service,
and subcommittee hearings were held in February. However, on March 20, 1984, one day before
the bill’s formal consideration by the full committee, President Reagan suspended Directive 84’s
prepublication review mandate. As a result, Brooks’s bill was removed from the full committee’s
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 8 of 42
schedule. As a 1988 report of the House Committee on Government Operations, chaired by
Brooks, noted: “It appeared as if there would be no need for legislation prohibiting
prepublication review contracts because the Administration had decided not to implement that
President Reagan’s suspension of the prepublication review mandate did not,
however, suspend agencies’ existing prepublication review requirements or prohibit the agencies
from imposing new ones. The agencies continued to require employees to sign Form 4193, a
standard-form contract that the Reagan administration had introduced in 1981 without informing
Congress, and that imposed essentially the same prepublication review obligations that Directive
84 would have imposed. A General Accounting Office survey found that, at the end of 1985, at
least 240,776 individuals had signed SCI nondisclosure agreements with prepublication review
requirements, and an updated survey from 1988 found that about 450,000 current and former
employees had signed such agreements. Neither survey included employees (current or former)
of the CIA or the NSA.
Over the past five decades, the prepublication review system has expanded on
First, more agencies impose prepublication review requirements on their former
employees. When the Supreme Court decided Snepp, the only U.S. intelligence agencies that
imposed prepublication review obligations on former employees were the CIA and the NSA.
Today, every U.S. intelligence agency imposes a lifetime prepublication review requirement on
at least some subset of former employees.
Second, these agencies impose prepublication review obligations on more
categories of people. Most agencies once imposed lifetime prepublication review obligations
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 9 of 42
only on individuals with access to SCI, and the number of employees with SCI was “a very small
fraction of Government employees who [had] access to classified information generally,” as
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard K. Willard testified in 1983. Now, however, many
agencies impose such obligations even on employees who have never had access to SCI or to
classified information of any kind. Whereas the DOD, for example, once imposed lifetime
prepublication review obligations only on employees with access to SCI—111,167 people in
1983—it now imposes these obligations on all 2.9 million of its employees, including civilian
employees, active duty military personnel, and reservists.
Third, the amount of information that is classified has expanded dramatically. In
1980, the year Snepp was decided, original and derivative classification authorities made 16
million classification decisions. In 2017, they made 49.5 million. The increase in the number of
classified secrets has meant a corresponding expansion in the reach of prepublication review
regimes—an expansion that is of especial concern because, as is widely acknowledged, a
substantial fraction of classified secrets is classified improperly or unnecessarily.
Fourth, agency prepublication review regimes have become increasingly complex.
The CIA prepublication review obligations that the Supreme Court considered in Snepp were
purely contractual. Today, the intelligence agencies impose prepublication review requirements
through a confusing tangle of contracts, regulations, and policies. Moreover, the basic features of
prepublication review—including submission and review standards, review timelines, and
appeals processes—vary widely across agencies, which further complicates the process for
former employees who must submit to more than one agency, and also for those who submit to
only one agency but are told, as they very often are, that their manuscript has been referred to
other agencies for additional review. Against this background, former employees frequently have
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 10 of 42
difficulty determining what their submission obligations are, and what standards will be applied
to their manuscripts.
Fifth, the amount of material being submitted for prepublication review has
steadily increased. For example, in 1977, the CIA received 43 submissions for prepublication
review. In 2015, by contrast, the agency received more than 8,400 submissions for
prepublication review, including about 3,400 manuscripts, according to a draft report of the CIA
Inspector General obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (“ACLU”) and the Knight
First Amendment Institute at Columbia University (“Knight Institute”) under the Freedom of
Information Act (“FOIA”). Another document released under FOIA indicates that the number of
pages reviewed by the CIA each year increased from about 1,000 in the mid-1970s to 150,000 in
2014. Other agencies have seen similarly dramatic increases.
Figure 1: Graph from CIA Inspector General report produced to
the ACLU and the Knight Institute in FOIA litigation
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 11 of 42
Finally, in part because so much more material is submitted to them, agencies
now take much more time to complete their reviews. In a 1983 congressional hearing, then–
Chairman of the CIA’s Publications Review Board Charles Wilson testified that the CIA’s 30day time limit for completion of reviews was “met in virtually all cases but a very few,” and that
the average review took just 13 days. Review takes much longer today, perhaps because staffing
has not kept pace with the sharp increase in submissions. According to the draft CIA IG report
cited above, “[w]ith today’s volumes, complexity, and drive for immediacy, [the Publications
Review Board] is struggling with achieving timeliness, and to some extent
thoroughness/quality.” The report states: “[B]ook-length manuscripts received today are
currently projected to take over a year because of the complexity and large book backlog.”
In part because of the expansion described above, and in part because of factors
described more fully below, the prepublication review system has become dysfunctional.
Recognizing this, in 2017 the House and Senate Intelligence Committees instructed the DNI to
prepare, within 180 days of enactment of the Intelligence Authorization Act for that year, a new
prepublication review policy that would apply to all intelligence agencies and that would “yield
timely, reasoned, and impartial decisions that are subject to appeal.” The new policy, the
committees said, should require each intelligence agency to develop and maintain a
prepublication review policy that identifies the individuals whose work is subject to
prepublication review, provides guidance on the types of information that must be submitted for
review, provides for a “prompt and transparent” appeals process, includes guidelines for the
assertion of “interagency equities,” and summarizes the measures the agency may take to enforce
its policy. Twenty-three months have passed, however, and the DNI has not published or
formulated such a policy.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 12 of 42
Defendants’ Prepublication Review Regimes
Defendants’ prepublication review regimes differ in their particulars, but each of
them restrains far more speech than can be justified by any legitimate government interest.
The CIA imposes overlapping submission requirements that, taken together, are
vague, confusing, and overbroad.
a. Through Standard Form 312, “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement,”
the CIA requires all agency employees with access to classified information who
are “uncertain about the classification status of information” to “confirm from an
authorized official that the information is unclassified before [they] may disclose
it.” See Standard Form 312 § 3.
b. Through Form 4414, “Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure
Agreement,” the CIA requires all agency employees with access to SCI to submit
for prepublication review “any writing or other preparation in any form, including
a work of fiction, that contains or purports to contain any SCI or description of
activities that produce or relate to SCI or that [the author has] reason to believe
are derived from SCI.” See Form 4414 § 4.
c. Through the standard CIA secrecy agreement—a document that has not been
released publicly but that is summarized on the CIA’s website—the agency
requires all CIA officers, as a condition of employment, to submit for
prepublication review “any and all materials they intend to share with the public
that are intelligence related.”
d. Finally, through Agency Regulation (“AR”) 13-10, “Agency Prepublication
Review of Certain Material Prepared for Public Dissemination,” the CIA requires
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 13 of 42
all “former Agency employees and contractors, and others who are obligated by
CIA secrecy agreement,” to submit for prepublication review any material “that
mentions CIA or intelligence data or activities or material on any subject about
which the author has had access to classified information in the course of his
employment or other contact with the Agency.” See AR 13-10 § 2(b)(1), (e)(1).
e. A document provided by the CIA to the ACLU and the Knight Institute in FOIA
litigation states that the agency “will not provide a copy of a secrecy agreement or
nondisclosure agreement to an author who requests one they signed,” even though
such agreements “are typically not classified.”
The CIA’s prepublication review regime fails to meaningfully cabin the discretion
of the agency’s censor, the Publications Review Board. Collectively, Standard Form 312, Form
4414, the CIA secrecy agreement, and AR 13-10 give the Board discretion to censor information
that it claims is classified without regard to, for example, whether disclosure of the information
would actually cause harm to the nation’s security, whether the former employee acquired the
information in question in the course of employment, whether the information is already in the
public domain, and whether any legitimate interest in secrecy is outweighed by the public
interest in disclosure. In addition, when the Board refers manuscripts to other agencies for
review, other agencies censor manuscripts submitted by former CIA employees on the basis of
review standards that are not disclosed. See SF-312 § 3; Form 4414 §§ 4–5; AR 13-10 § 2(c)(1),
The breadth and vagueness of the CIA’s review standards invite capricious and
discriminatory enforcement, and in practice the Board’s censorship decisions are often arbitrary
or influenced by the author’s viewpoint. For example, former intelligence-community employees
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 14 of 42
who wrote books criticizing the CIA’s torture of prisoners apprehended in the “war on terror”
have complained publicly that their books were heavily redacted even as former CIA officials’
supportive accounts of the same policies were published without significant excisions of similar
information. In 2012, the CIA opened an internal investigation into whether the agency’s
prepublication review regime was being misused to suppress speech critical of the agency.
According to the Washington Post, the investigation was sparked by “growing concern in the
intelligence community that the review process is biased toward agency loyalists, particularly
those from the executive ranks.” The CIA has not released or publicly described the
The CIA’s prepublication review regime does not require the Publications Review
Board to provide authors with reasons for its decisions, even in unclassified form, and on
information and belief the Board generally does not do so.
The CIA’s prepublication review regime fails to assure prompt agency review. To
the extent that the regime provides deadlines for review or the adjudication of appeals, these
deadlines are merely aspirational. As noted above, the CIA itself estimates that review of booklength manuscripts will take a year—a duration of time that dissuades would-be authors from
setting pen to paper and dissuades would-be publishers from signing book contracts with former
agency employees. In some cases, review has taken considerably longer than one year. For
example, a manuscript by former CIA analyst Nada Bakos was reportedly under review for
almost twice that time.
The CIA’s prepublication review regime also fails to require the government to
initiate judicial review of censors’ decisions and fails to guarantee that review is prompt.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 15 of 42
The DOD imposes overlapping submission requirements that, taken together, are
vague, confusing, and overbroad.
a. As a prerequisite to accessing classified information, the DOD requires
employees to sign Standard Form 312, which is described above.
b. As a prerequisite to accessing SCI, the DOD requires employees to sign Form
4414, which is described above, DD Form 1847-1, “Sensitive Compartmented
Information Nondisclosure Statement,” or both. Like Form 4414, DD Form
1847-1 requires all agency employees with access to SCI to submit for
prepublication review “any writing or other preparation in any form, including a
work of fiction, that contains or purports to contain any SCI or description of
activities that produce or relate to SCI or that [the author has] reason to believe
are derived from SCI.” See DD Form 1847-1 § 4.
c. The DOD has also adopted Directive 5230.09, “Clearance of DoD Information for
Public Release,” and Instruction 5230.29, “Security and Policy Review of DoD
Information for Public Release,” which together require all former agency
employees and all former active or reserve military service members to submit for
prepublication review “any official DoD information intended for public release
that pertains to military matters, national security issues, or subjects of significant
concern to [the agency].” The directive defines “official DoD information” to
encompass “[a]ll information that is in the custody and control of the Department
of Defense, relates to information in the custody and control of the Department, or
was acquired by DoD employees as part of their official duties or because of their
official status within the Department.” Such information must be submitted for
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 16 of 42
review if, for example, it “[i]s or has the potential to become an item of national
or international interest”; “[a]ffects national security policy, foreign relations, or
ongoing negotiations”; or “[c]oncerns a subject of potential controversy among
the DoD Components or with other federal agencies.” See Directive 5230.09
§ 4(b); id. Glossary, pt. II; Instruction 5230.29 § 3; id. Enclosure 3 § 1. As a
“Frequently Asked Questions” document issued by the DOD emphasizes, “[a]ll
current, former, and retired DoD employees and military service members
(whether active or reserve) who have had access to DoD information or facilities,
must submit DoD information intended for public release . . . for review and
The DOD’s prepublication review regime fails to meaningfully cabin the
discretion of the agency’s review board, the Defense Office of Prepublication and Security
Review. Collectively, Standard Form 312, Form 4414, DD Form 1847-1, and the DOD’s
directive and instruction give the DOD’s review board discretion to censor information without
regard to, for example, whether the information is classified, whether disclosure of the
information would actually cause harm to the nation’s security, whether the former employee
acquired the information in question in the course of employment, whether the information is
already in the public domain, and whether any legitimate interest in secrecy is outweighed by the
public interest in disclosure. For example, the DOD’s directive and instruction seem to
contemplate that submissions from former employees may be subject to both “security review”
(intended to “protect classified information, controlled unclassified information, or unclassified
information that may individually or in aggregate lead to the compromise of classified
information or disclosure of operations security”) and “policy review” (which seeks to “ensure
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 17 of 42
that no conflict exists with established policies or programs of the DoD or the U.S.
Government”). In addition, when the DOD’s review board refers manuscripts to other agencies
for review, other agencies censor manuscripts submitted by former DOD employees on the basis
of standards that are not disclosed. See SF-312 § 3; Form 4414 §§ 4–5; DD Form 1847-1 §§ 4–5;
Instruction 5230.29 § 3; id. Enclosure 3 § 1.
The breadth and vagueness of the DOD’s review standards mean that the DOD
review board’s decisions are frequently arbitrary and that the DOD and DOD components often
disagree as to what must be censored. For example, when former reserve Army officer Anthony
Shaffer submitted his memoir for review, the Army reviewed the manuscript and cleared it with
modest changes. Several months later, however, the Defense Intelligence Agency saw a copy,
showed it to the NSA and other agencies, and decided that some 250 passages had to be
redacted. Redactions included information that was readily available on Wikipedia as well as
other publicly available information, such as the name and abbreviation of the Iranian
Revolutionary Guard Corps and the fact that “sig int” means “signals intelligence.”
The DOD’s prepublication review regime does not require the DOD’s review
board to provide authors with reasons for its decisions, even in unclassified form, and on
information and belief the review board generally does not do so.
The DOD’s prepublication review regime fails to assure prompt agency review.
To the extent that the regime provides deadlines for review or the adjudication of appeals, these
deadlines are merely aspirational. As documents produced to the ACLU and the Knight Institute
in FOIA litigation show, the DOD’s prepublication review process frequently takes many weeks
or even months. See Instruction 5230.29, Enclosure 3 §§ 3(a), 4(b). For example, in 2014 former
ODNI and Defense Intelligence Agency officer Michael Richter lodged an administrative appeal
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 18 of 42
with the DOD that took over seven months to adjudicate. This, despite the fact that the appeal
“require[d] analysis of one sentence, in one paragraph, citing one document”—and the author’s
insistence that he had “only learned of [the excised] information by virtue of having access to the
New York Times website.”
The DOD’s prepublication review regime also fails to require the government to
initiate judicial review of censors’ decisions and fails to guarantee that review is prompt.
The NSA imposes overlapping submission requirements that, taken together, are
vague, confusing, and overbroad.
a. As a prerequisite to accessing classified information, the NSA requires employees
to sign Standard Form 312, which is described above.
b. As a prerequisite to accessing SCI, the NSA requires employees to sign Form
4414, which is described above.
c. The NSA has also adopted NSA/CSS Policy 1-30, “Review of NSA/CSS
Information Intended for Public Release,” which requires all former NSA
employees to submit for prepublication review any material, other than a resume
or other job-related document, “where [it] contains official NSA/CSS information
that may or may not be UNCLASSIFIED and approved for public release.”
“Official NSA/CSS information” is defined to include “[a]ny NSA/CSS, DoD, or
IC information that is in the custody and control of NSA/CSS and was obtained
for or generated on NSA/CSS’ behalf during the course of employment or other
service, whether contractual or not, with NSA/CSS.” While the policy does not
define “approved for public release,” it seems to contemplate that information
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 19 of 42
may be unclassified but not approved for release. See NSA/CSS Policy 1-30 §§ 2,
The NSA’s prepublication review regime fails to meaningfully cabin the
discretion of the agency’s censors, known as Prepublication Review Authorities. Indeed, the
NSA’s policy does not directly address what information may be censored. Collectively,
Standard Form 312, Form 4414, and the NSA’s policy give reviewing officials discretion to
censor information without regard to, for example, whether the information is classified, whether
disclosure of the information would actually cause harm to the nation’s security, whether the
former employee acquired the information in question in the course of employment, whether the
information is already in the public domain, and whether any legitimate interest in secrecy is
outweighed by the public interest in disclosure. In addition, when the NSA refers manuscripts to
other agencies for review, other agencies censor manuscripts submitted by former NSA
employees on the basis of standards that are not disclosed. See SF-312 § 3; Form 4414 §§ 4–5;
NSA/CSS Policy 1-30 § 12(e).
In part because of the breadth and the vagueness of the NSA’s review standards,
the censorship decisions of reviewing officials are often arbitrary. For example, in 2017 former
NSA employee and contractor Thomas Reed Willemain published a memoir “motivated, in part
by a hope that [he] could counter the intensely negative views of the NSA in the media and
popular fiction.” According to a blogpost that Willemain wrote for a national-security website,
NSA censors made redactions that “sometimes border[ed] on the ridiculous,” excising facts that
were publicly available, including facts that were “obvious and apparent.” In one instance, they
redacted a fact that the agency had previously declassified in a court filing.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 20 of 42
The NSA’s prepublication review regime does not require reviewing officials to
provide authors with reasons for their decisions at first instance, even in unclassified form, and
on information and belief reviewing officials generally do not do so.
The NSA’s prepublication review regime provides no assurance of prompt agency
review. Although the regime provides a firm deadline for adjudication of appeals, it does not
include one for initial determinations. As documents produced to the ACLU and the Knight
Institute in FOIA litigation show, review frequently takes many weeks or even months.
The NSA’s prepublication review regime also fails to require the government to
initiate judicial review of censors’ decisions and fails to guarantee that review is prompt.
The ODNI imposes overlapping submission requirements that, taken together, are
vague, confusing, and overbroad.
a. As a prerequisite to accessing classified information, the ODNI requires
employees to sign Standard Form 312, which is described above.
b. As a prerequisite to accessing SCI, the ODNI requires employees to sign Form
4414, which is described above.
c. As a prerequisite to accessing information or material “that is classified, or is in
the process of a classification determination,” the ODNI requires employees to
sign Form 313, “Nondisclosure Agreement for Classified Information,” which
directs them to submit for prepublication review “any writing or other preparation
in any form” which “contains any mention of intelligence data or activities, or
which contains any other information or material that might be based upon
[information or material that is classified, or is in the process of a classification
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 21 of 42
determination, and that was obtained pursuant to the agreement].” See Form 313
§§ 3, 5.
d. The ODNI has also adopted Instruction 80.04, “ODNI Pre-publication Review of
Information to be Publicly Released,” which requires all former agency
employees, regardless of their level of access to sensitive information, to submit
“all official and non-official information intended for publication that discusses
the ODNI, the IC [Intelligence Community], or national security.” See ODNI
Instruction 80.04 § 6.
The ODNI’s prepublication review regime fails to meaningfully cabin the
discretion of the agency’s censor, the Director of the Information Management Division.
Collectively, Standard Form 312, Form 4414, Form 313, and the ODNI’s instruction give the
Director discretion to censor information without regard to, for example, whether the information
is classified, whether disclosure of the information would actually cause harm to the nation’s
security, whether the former employee acquired the information in question in the course of
employment, whether the information is already in the public domain, and whether any
legitimate interest in secrecy is outweighed by the public interest in disclosure. Indeed, the
ODNI’s instruction imposes no limitations whatsoever on the Director’s power to censor. It
states only that “the goal of pre-publication review is to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of
information, and to ensure the ODNI’s mission and the foreign relations or security of the U.S.
are not adversely affected by publication.” In addition, when the Director refers manuscripts to
other agencies for review, other agencies censor manuscripts submitted by former ODNI
employees on the basis of standards that are not disclosed. See SF-312 § 3; Form 4414 §§ 4–5;
ODNI Instruction 80.04 § 3.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 22 of 42
The breadth and vagueness of the ODNI’s review standards invite capricious and
The ODNI’s prepublication review regime does not require the Director of the
Information Management Division to provide reasons for his or her decisions, and on
information and belief the Director generally does not do so.
The ODNI’s prepublication review regime provides no assurance of prompt
agency review. To the extent that the regime provides deadlines for review or the adjudication of
appeals, these deadlines are merely aspirational. As documents produced to the ACLU and the
Knight Institute in FOIA litigation show, review frequently takes many weeks or even months.
The ODNI’s prepublication review regime also fails to require the government to
initiate judicial review of censors’ decisions and fails to guarantee that review is prompt.
Timothy H. Edgar
Timothy H. Edgar, a resident of Rhode Island, is an expert on cybersecurity and a
former employee of the ODNI. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Watson Institute for
International and Public Affairs and Academic Director of the Executive Master’s Program in
Cybersecurity at Brown University.
Earlier in his career, Mr. Edgar was a visiting fellow at the Watson Institute (from
2013 to 2015), a fellow and adjunct lecturer at Boston University (from 2014 to 2015), and an
adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center (from 2012 to 2013). Prior to his
government service, he was National Security Policy Counsel at the American Civil Liberties
Union (from 2001 to 2006). He received a B.A. in History from Dartmouth College and a J.D.
from Harvard Law School.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 23 of 42
Mr. Edgar was an employee of the ODNI from 2006 to 2013. From June 2006 to
August 2009, he served in the newly created position of Deputy for Civil Liberties, supporting
the Director of National Intelligence by reviewing new surveillance authorities, government
watchlists, and sensitive programs. From August 2009 to November 2010, he was detailed to the
White House National Security Staff as Director of Privacy and Civil Liberties, focusing on
cybersecurity, open government, and data privacy initiatives. From November 2010 to December
2012, he was a Senior Associate General Counsel at the ODNI. He formally resigned from the
agency in June 2013.
Mr. Edgar obtained a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information
(“TS/SCI”) security clearance in 2006. He signed a nondisclosure agreement with the ODNI in
order to obtain this security clearance. He held his TS/SCI clearance continuously until June
As an employee of the ODNI, Mr. Edgar submitted for review official material
prepared for public appearances that he made on behalf of the government. He also submitted
syllabi for courses that he taught in his personal capacity at Brown University in 2013 and
Georgetown University Law Center in 2012.
Since leaving the ODNI, Mr. Edgar has submitted to the ODNI blog posts and op-
eds that have appeared in major publications, including the Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, the
Wall Street Journal, and the Lawfare national-security blog, where he is a contributing editor.
On October 10, 2016, Mr. Edgar submitted via e-mail to the ODNI’s
prepublication review office a manuscript for the book Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass
Surveillance, and the Struggle to Reform the NSA. Although some portions of the manuscript
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 24 of 42
were based on his personal experiences, Mr. Edgar relied on and cited in the manuscript
declassified documents for pertinent details.
After Mr. Edgar submitted the manuscript, the ODNI informed him that it had
referred the manuscript to both the CIA and the NSA for additional review. Despite multiple
inquiries, he was unable to communicate directly with reviewing officials at the CIA and the
On January 12, 2017, the ODNI informed Mr. Edgar that he could publish the
manuscript only if he redacted or excised certain material. Some of the redactions related to
events that had taken place, or issues that had arisen, after Mr. Edgar had left government. Others
related to facts that were widely discussed and acknowledged though perhaps not officially
confirmed. Although he disagreed with some of the mandated redactions, Mr. Edgar decided
against challenging them because, partly as a result of the three-month review, he had already
pushed back his publication date from the spring to the fall, and he worried that pushing the
publication date back further would make some of the analysis and insights in his book outdated
or less relevant to ongoing public debates. In addition, because he believed that maintaining a
good relationship with reviewers at the ODNI was important to getting future manuscripts
cleared in a timely fashion, he believed it would be counterproductive to challenge requested
edits or redactions because doing so could harm that relationship.
Mr. Edgar plans to continue writing about matters relating to intelligence and
cybersecurity, and he anticipates submitting at least some of this writing to the ODNI for
prepublication review. Given the subjects he writes about, Mr. Edgar expects that any
manuscripts he submits to the ODNI for review may also be referred to the NSA, the CIA, or
other agencies, as happened with his now-published book.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 25 of 42
Mr. Edgar believes that the ODNI’s current prepublication review regime requires
him to submit far more than he should be required to submit. He finds the ODNI’s submission
requirements to be vague and confusing, and as a result he is uncertain as to the exact scope of
his submission obligations. He also fears that the delay associated with prepublication review,
including interagency referrals, will hinder his career as an academic and impede his ability to
participate effectively in public debate on matters involving his areas of expertise. The delay and
uncertainty associated with prepublication review has dissuaded him from writing some pieces
that he would otherwise have written, and has caused him to write others differently than he
would otherwise have written them. Based on his knowledge of other former employees’
experiences with prepublication review, and his understanding of the broad discretion that the
prepublication review system invests in government censors, he believes that the ODNI, the CIA,
and the NSA might have taken longer to review his book if they had perceived the book to be
unsympathetic to the intelligence community. He is concerned that government censors will be
less responsive to him if he writes books that are perceived to be critical.
Richard H. Immerman
Richard H. Immerman, a resident of Pennsylvania, is a historian with expertise in
U.S. foreign relations and a former employee of the ODNI. He was a professor of history at
Temple University for over two decades before he retired in 2017. He is now Professor of
History, Emeritus; Edward J. Buthusiem Family Distinguished Faculty Fellow in History,
Emeritus; and Marvin Wachman Director Emeritus of the Center for the Study of Force and
Earlier in his career, Professor Immerman was the Francis W. DeSerio Chair of
Strategic Intelligence, Department of National Security and Strategy, at the U.S. Army War
College. He was also the 40th President of the Society for Historians of American Foreign
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 26 of 42
Relations. He has published twelve books on U.S. foreign policy, intelligence, and national
security, as well as dozens of book chapters and academic articles. He received a B.A. in
Government from Cornell University, an M.A. in U.S. History from Boston College, and a Ph.D.
in U.S. Diplomatic History from Boston College.
Professor Immerman joined the ODNI on a temporary sabbatical from his faculty
position at Temple University. From 2007 to 2009, he served as the Assistant Deputy Director of
National Intelligence, Analytic Integrity and Standards, in which capacity he was responsible for
establishing mechanisms to improve analytic integrity and standards across the intelligence
community. During the same period, he served as the Analytic Ombudsman for the ODNI,
working with analysts on a confidential basis to raise concerns about the production of finished
intelligence products. His chief priorities were to address allegations of politicization and/or the
suppression of dissent.
Shortly after returning to Temple University in 2009, Professor Immerman
accepted an invitation to serve on the Department of State’s Advisory Committee on Historical
Diplomatic Documentation (often referred to as the Historical Advisory Committee, or “HAC”).
In 2010, he became chairman of the HAC, a position he continues to hold. The HAC’s primary
responsibility is overseeing publication of the Foreign Relations of the United States book series.
Professor Immerman obtained a TS/SCI security clearance through the ODNI in
2007. He signed a nondisclosure agreement with the ODNI in order to obtain this security
clearance. In 2011 or 2012, Professor Immerman signed a separate nondisclosure agreement with
the CIA because of his ongoing responsibilities with the HAC.
Since leaving the ODNI, Professor Immerman has submitted to the ODNI book
manuscripts, articles, papers, public talks, and academic syllabi.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 27 of 42
On January 25, 2013, Professor Immerman submitted via e-mail to the ODNI’s
prepublication review office a manuscript for the book The Hidden Hand: A Brief History of the
CIA. The manuscript did not refer, directly or indirectly, to any classified information that
Professor Immerman obtained in the course of his employment with the ODNI or the Department
of State, and Professor Immerman cited public sources for all factual propositions.
The ODNI acknowledged receipt three days after Professor Immerman submitted
the manuscript, but it took almost three months before Professor Immerman was informed that
the agency had referred part of his manuscript to the CIA for additional review. Several weeks
later, the ODNI informed him that the CIA was reviewing the entire manuscript. He contacted
the CIA, but personnel at that agency were unable to provide him with information about the
status of the agency’s review or the contact information of any reviewing officials.
On July 12, 2013, nearly six months after Professor Immerman’s initial
submission, the ODNI informed Professor Immerman that he could publish his manuscript only
with extensive redactions mandated by the CIA. All of the mandated redactions related to
information for which Professor Immerman had cited public sources. Some redactions related to
information that had been published previously by government agencies themselves, including
the CIA. Many of them related to events that had taken place, or issues that had arisen, after
Professor Immerman had left government. In some instances, the ODNI directed Professor
Immerman to excise citations to newspaper articles that he had come across in the course of his
research. In other instances, the ODNI directed Professor Immerman to delete entire passages
relating to information that he had obtained from public sources. For example, the ODNI
directed him to excise numerous portions of the manuscript relating to the CIA’s use of drones.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 28 of 42
The agency also instructed him to redact words communicating judgments and arguments that he
considered fundamental to his conclusions as a trained historian.
The ODNI did not provide Professor Immerman with any explanation for the
CIA’s mandated redactions.
Professor Immerman appealed the agency’s prepublication review determination
to the ODNI’s Information Management Division. Several weeks later, that office informed him
that he could publish a significant portion of the text that the prepublication review office had
previously instructed him to redact.
In September 2013, Professor Immerman arranged to meet with two reviewing
officials from the CIA in person. At this meeting, the officials agreed with Professor Immerman
that some of the redactions were unnecessary, and they authorized him to publish additional text
with revised wording, but they reaffirmed their view that other redactions were necessary.
Although Professor Immerman disagreed, he decided to publish The Hidden Hand with these
remaining redactions to avoid further delay, and his book was in fact published in 2014. In the
end, after his persistent challenges and communications with reviewing officials at the ODNI and
the CIA, Professor Immerman received approval to publish roughly eighty percent of the
material that the agencies had originally redacted. The process of prepublication review took ten
months and would have taken longer if Professor Immerman had not ultimately decided to
publish the manuscript rather than to continue to challenge redactions that he believed to be
Professor Immerman plans to continue publishing academic articles, books, and
op-eds, at least some of which will trigger prepublication review obligations under the ODNI’s
current prepublication review regime. For example, Professor Immerman is in the process of
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 29 of 42
drafting an academic article about the influence of intelligence on the policy-making process. He
is also conducting research on the contribution of intelligence to negotiations on strategic arms
limitation from the Nixon through Reagan administrations, and intends to write a book on the
subject. He anticipates submitting these manuscripts for prepublication review.
But for the dysfunction of the prepublication review system, however, Professor
Immerman would publish more. Professor Immerman believes that the ODNI’s prepublication
review regime requires him to submit for review far more than he should be required to submit;
that the ODNI’s and the CIA’s arbitrary and unjustified redactions will diminish the value of any
work that he does submit; and that the time required for prepublication review will make it more
difficult for him to contribute in a timely way to public debates. He has considered writing
academic articles using the research he has already conducted for his book, and he has
considered writing op-eds about the intelligence community and the current administration.
Concerns about the burdens and uncertainties associated with prepublication review, however,
have dissuaded him from writing these pieces.
Melvin A. Goodman
Melvin A. Goodman, a resident of Maryland, is an expert on the former Soviet
Union and its foreign policy in developing countries that were not aligned with either the
Western Bloc or the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War. He spent forty-two years in government
service, including as a division chief in the CIA and a professor of international security at the
National War College. Now semi-retired, he teaches courses in international relations at Johns
Hopkins University, and writes books and opinion columns about international security.
Mr. Goodman holds a B.A. in history from Johns Hopkins University, an M.A. in history and a
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 30 of 42
Ph.D. in diplomatic history from Indiana University, and an M.A. in military science from the
National War College.
Mr. Goodman began his government career in 1955 as a cryptographer for the
U.S. Army, coding and deciphering sensitive messages. From 1966 to 1990, he served in the CIA
as an analyst, senior analyst, branch chief, and division chief in the Directorate of Intelligence on
Soviet Foreign Policy. During that service, from 1974 to 1976, he spent two years on detail at the
Department of State. The primary focus of his work was on Soviet foreign policy in non-aligned
countries, including in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. From 1986 to 2004, Mr. Goodman was
a professor at the National War College, where he served as Director of the National Security
Mr. Goodman held a TS/SCI security clearance throughout his entire government
career. His clearance level never changed during his government service. His clearance expired
in 2006, two years after he retired from the National War College.
When Mr. Goodman joined the CIA in 1966 and first gained his security
clearance, he signed a secrecy agreement that contained a provision relating to prepublication
review. The provision required “specific prior approval by the Agency” of any “publication of
any information or material relating to the Agency, its activities or intelligence activities
generally, either during or after the term of [his] employment by the Agency.”
Since leaving the CIA, Mr. Goodman has submitted multiple works to the CIA for
At times, Mr. Goodman has not submitted for review shorter pieces of writing,
such as op-ed articles, that were time-sensitive and that he was confident did not contain
classified information or other information that he had obtained during his employment with the
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 31 of 42
CIA. On at least six occasions after publishing an op-ed, Mr. Goodman received letters from the
CIA reminding him of his prepublication review obligations. One such letter, sent in 2009,
threatened to refer the matter to the Department of Justice, stating: “The Agency is consulting
with the Department of Justice to evaluate the legal remedies it has to ensure that you comply
with your secrecy agreement.”
Mr. Goodman has published nine books and has submitted each manuscript to the
CIA for prepublication review. The agency has referred one of these manuscripts to other
agencies, including the DOD and the Department of State, for additional review. He repeatedly
asked the CIA for the contact information of the reviewers at these other agencies, but the CIA
declined to provide them to him. These departments were even slower than the CIA in reviewing
Generally, the CIA has sent Mr. Goodman’s manuscripts back to him in the mail
with redactions, edits, and suggestions for alternative language. Frequently, Mr. Goodman
believed the CIA’s redactions were overbroad and unjustified. He has often sent the agency
“reclamas”—that is, requests asking agency staff to reconsider their proposed redactions and
edits—explaining the reasons why publication should be allowed. Typically, the agency has
failed to respond to these reclamas.
For most of Mr. Goodman’s books, the prepublication review process typically
took less than two months. In 2017, however, the CIA took eleven months to review a
manuscript of his latest book, Whistleblower at the CIA. In the manuscript, Mr. Goodman
provided an account of his experience as a senior CIA analyst. The lengthy review process
caused significant difficulties with Mr. Goodman’s publisher, which at one point threatened to
cancel his book contract in part because of the delays.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 32 of 42
Mr. Goodman believes that all of the changes to Whistleblower at the CIA that the
agency demanded were intended to spare the agency embarrassment, not to protect classified
information. In various passages of the draft manuscript, Mr. Goodman discussed widely
reported aspects of U.S. government policy, including the government’s recent use of armed
drones overseas. Mr. Goodman’s commentary was not based on personal knowledge of these
activities—which Mr. Goodman did and does not have, as he has lacked access to CIA
information since 1986—but was based on press accounts, which he cited in his manuscript. The
agency demanded that he not discuss these matters in his manuscript at all. The agency did not
provide any written explanation for its demands.
Because the excisions and changes to the manuscript demanded by the CIA were
so substantial, Mr. Goodman decided not to file a reclama but rather to meet in person with the
CIA’s censor. His efforts to persuade the agency to reconsider its demands, however, were
unsuccessful. Mr. Goodman reluctantly removed all of the passages that the censor had flagged.
In a recently submitted manuscript, Mr. Goodman self-censored and avoided
discussing certain public-source information about current CIA Director Gina Haspel.
Mr. Goodman would have liked to discuss information about Ms. Haspel that he learned as a
member of the public, not as a former agency employee. However, he chose not to include any
such content in the manuscript in order to avoid conflict with and delays from the agency’s
prepublication review office.
Consistent with his practice in the past, Mr. Goodman intends to submit those
portions of any future manuscripts that deal with intelligence matters. He remains concerned that
CIA censors will demand that he redact material unwarrantedly, as it did with his last book, and
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 33 of 42
that the delay associated with prepublication review will jeopardize his book contracts and
render his publications less relevant to quickly evolving public debates.
Anuradha Bhagwati, a resident of New York, is a writer, activist, and former
Marine Corps officer. She is the founder of SWAN, the Service Women’s Action Network, a
member-driven community advocacy network for service women. She is also the founder of and
an instructor at Yoga for Vets NYC, the longest-running yoga and meditation program for
military servicemembers and veterans in New York City. She recently published Unbecoming: A
Memoir of Disobedience, a memoir that centers on her confrontation of misogyny, racism, and
sexual violence during her military service, as well as her advocacy on related issues after
leaving the Marines. Ms. Bhagwati received a B.A. in English from Yale University and an
M.P.P. from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. She is currently pursuing
an M.F.A. in creative writing from Hunter College in New York City.
After beginning graduate school, Ms. Bhagwati left academia and joined the
Marine Corps in October 1999. Shortly after joining the Marines, she attended officer training at
Officer Candidates School in Quantico, Virginia. In 2001, she became a communications officer,
and from 2001 to 2002 Ms. Bhagwati served as a platoon commander of a radio platoon in
Okinawa, Japan. Between 2002 and 2004, she became an executive officer and company
commander of a training company at Marine Combat Training Battalion, School of Infantry
(East), at Camp LeJeune, North Carolina. After leaving the Marines in 2004, Ms. Bhagwati
served in the Individual Ready Reserve for three years.
Ms. Bhagwati obtained a Secret security clearance after graduating from the
Communications Information Systems Officer Course and getting assigned to her first unit as a
platoon commander. As a former DOD employee, Ms. Bhagwati is subject to the prepublication
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 34 of 42
review requirement imposed by Directive 5230.09 and Instruction 5230.29. Until recently,
Ms. Bhagwati was not aware of that prepublication review obligation. She learned of that
obligation on the eve of the publication of her recent memoir through conversations with
Ms. Bhagwati is a frequent and vocal public advocate for the rights of
servicemembers and veterans. She has advocated on military issues on Capitol Hill, testifying
before Congress alongside high-ranking military officers, and she has worked with DOD
employees in relevant policy offices on issues of sexual assault and discrimination in the
military. She has published more than a dozen op-eds and opinion pieces about her experiences
in the military and her military advocacy work, in publications like the New York Times, the
Washington Post, Politico, and Foreign Affairs. She has appeared on national television multiple
times discussing issues related to her advocacy.
In March 2019, Ms. Bhagwati published Unbecoming: A Memoir of
Disobedience, a chronicle of her time in the Marines that includes policy recommendations and
advocacy based on her own experiences with misogyny, racism, and sexual violence in the
military. Like all of her published work and public advocacy, the memoir was heavily influenced
by her personal experiences as a servicewoman.
Ms. Bhagwati plans to continue her advocacy through written publications and
public appearances. She has no plans to submit any future work to prepublication review,
because she is certain that her future publications, as with her prior ones, will not contain
classified information. Nonetheless, under the current regime, the DOD might at any point
choose to sanction her for failing to submit to prepublication review.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 35 of 42
Mark Fallon, a resident of Georgia, is an expert on counterterrorism,
counterintelligence, and interrogation who has spent more than three decades in government
service, principally with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (“NCIS”). After retiring from
government service in 2010, he served as the Chair of the High-Value Detainee Interrogation
Group (“HIG”) Research Committee between 2011 and 2016. He currently serves as a consultant
for government agencies, academic researchers, lawyers, and non-governmental organizations.
He holds a B.S. from Roger Williams College (now Roger Williams University).
Mr. Fallon joined the NCIS in 1981 after having spent two years at the U.S.
Marshals Service. At the NCIS, he worked on a broad array of criminal, counterterrorism, and
counterintelligence investigations. Over a period of 27 years, he served in a number of field
positions at the NCIS, from street agent to Special Agent in Charge, and served on numerous
joint-service assignments and task forces. After the attacks of September 11, 2001, he served as
the Deputy Commander and Special Agent in Charge of the Criminal Investigation Task Force to
investigate alleged terrorists for trials before military commissions. He also served as the
Tactical Commander for the NCIS USS Cole Task Force, which was responsible for
investigating the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen; as a special advisor to the Office of the
Secretary of the Navy in the establishment of the Office for the Administrative Review of
Detained Enemy Combatants; and as a special advisor to U.S. Central Command. Mr. Fallon was
the NCIS Deputy Assistant Director for counterterrorism from 2004 to 2005, when he became
the NCIS Deputy Assistant Director for Training and Director of the NCIS Training Academy.
In 2008, he was appointed to the Senior Executive Service. From 2008 to 2010, he served as the
Assistant Director of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center within the Department of
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 36 of 42
Mr. Fallon obtained a Top Secret security clearance in 1981, upon joining the
NCIS, and held it continuously until departing the Department of Homeland Security in 2010. He
obtained a TS/SCI security clearance during his career at the NCIS. He then obtained a TS/SCI
security clearance again in 2011, when beginning work for the HIG, and in 2017, for consulting
work he engages in with the U.S. government.
Since he left government service, Mr. Fallon has published op-eds, articles,
columns, and a book. He has submitted many of these to the DOD for prepublication review.
In 2016, Mr. Fallon completed a book, Unjustifiable Means, about the George W.
Bush administration’s policies relating to the interrogation and torture of prisoners, and about the
experience of public servants like him who had opposed the policies. He believed his assessment
of the torture policies, and his account of his experience in government, could help the public
better evaluate proposals relating to interrogation and serve as a template for leadership training
for other officials to make critical leadership decisions during crisis. The book relied on
information declassified by the government and on the voluminous public record relating to the
Bush administration’s policies and their consequences. Mr. Fallon was confident that the book
did not contain properly classified information.
When he began writing Unjustifiable Means in 2014, Mr. Fallon consulted former
NCIS colleagues about whether he was required to submit the manuscript for prepublication
review. One advised him that he had not submitted his own manuscript, and the others advised
that they did not believe he was required to submit it.
Through his own research, Mr. Fallon learned of the Defense Office of
Prepublication and Security Review. That office advised him over the telephone in June 2016
that the prepublication review process was “voluntary” and intended to aid authors. On
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 37 of 42
October 4, 2016, however, he received an email from a DOD official who claimed that she had
noticed on Amazon.com that Unjustifiable Means was forthcoming and asked whether he had
submitted it. The official stated that Mr. Fallon was required to submit his works for review. The
official also enclosed the DOD’s prepublication review directive and instruction in her email. On
January 3, 2017, the official advised him by email that, while DOD policies provide that review
will be completed within 30 to 45 working days, “the truth is that in most cases it takes a bit
Mr. Fallon submitted his manuscript to the DOD’s review board the following
day. He had intended to publish the book at the start of the Trump administration in order to
contribute to the public debate about torture, which had become a major issue during the 2016
U.S. presidential campaign. However, after considering both the time period specified in the
DOD’s policies and the additional information provided in the DOD official’s January 3, 2017
email, Mr. Fallon and his publisher agreed to a publication date of March 7, 2017.
On January 11, 2017, the DOD’s review board informed Mr. Fallon that its
review of his manuscript was complete but that the manuscript would have to be reviewed by
other agencies as well. The reviewing official in charge of reviewing Mr. Fallon’s book refused
to tell him which agencies. When he told that officer that the book was scheduled to be published
on March 7, 2017, however, the officer assured Mr. Fallon that the DOD would do everything it
could to complete review by that date.
Prior to his planned publication date, Mr. Fallon emailed the reviewing official at
least eight times. In these emails, he reminded the officer that delay would force his publisher to
push back his publication date, and that pushing back the publication date would require him to
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 38 of 42
cancel book tours, signing events, and speaking engagements. Mr. Fallon continued to regularly
contact the DOD’s review board about his manuscript.
The DOD informed Mr. Fallon that review of his book was complete on
August 25, 2017—eight months after he submitted it. Even then, however, the DOD told
Mr. Fallon that he could not publish the book without making 113 separate excisions. In
Mr. Fallon’s view, the excisions were arbitrary, haphazard, and inconsistent, and, at least in some
instances, seemingly intended to protect the CIA from embarrassment. Some of them related to
material that had been published in unclassified congressional reports. Some were news articles
Mr. Fallon had cited.
Although Mr. Fallon believed that all of the excisions were unnecessary and
unjustified, he decided not to challenge them to avoid pushing back his publication date again.
Senior government officials, including President Trump, had been musing publicly about
resurrecting torture policies, and it was important to Mr. Fallon that his book be published while
it was still possible to influence the public debate on this subject. The book was ultimately
published on October 24, 2017.
Mr. Fallon’s prepublication review experience with Unjustifiable Means was so
time-consuming, costly, and exhausting that he is unsure whether he is willing to embark on
writing another book. Mr. Fallon was in fact forced to cancel events and travel, and to incur
personal costs as a result. His publisher threatened to cancel his contract for non-delivery and
told him that publishing books by government officials was “not worth it” because of the
unpredictability of the prepublication review process. The review process was so stressful for
Mr. Fallon that for a time he discontinued certain consulting work while he waited for the review
to be completed. Mr. Fallon also paid a premium after the book was cleared in order for his
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 39 of 42
editors to work to finalize publication on a tight timeframe. And his publisher informed him that
the delayed publication date made it less likely that bookstores would choose to carry or promote
Mr. Fallon has submitted numerous shorter works for prepublication review since
the publication of Unjustifiable Means. For example, Mr. Fallon is currently in the process of
publishing a manuscript titled The HIG Project: The Road to Scientific Research on
Interrogations as a chapter in a forthcoming book titled Interrogation and Torture: Research on
Efficacy and Its Integration with Morality and Legality. Mr. Fallon and his co-author contracted
with the book’s editors to provide a draft of the chapter by November 1, 2018. Mr. Fallon
submitted the chapter for DOD review on August 10, 2018, and he and his co-author followed up
with the office repeatedly over a period of several months. On December 11, 2018, more than a
month after Mr. Fallon’s draft deadline, the ACLU and the Knight Institute sent a letter to the
DOD’s review board on Mr. Fallon’s behalf, expressing concerns about the delay. On January
14, 2019, the Defense Intelligence Agency’s review board informed Mr. Fallon’s co-author that
the DOD’s review board was waiting for a response from the FBI.
On February 11, 2019, prepublication review of The HIG Project was completed,
and the chapter was cleared for publication with redactions. All of the redacted material,
however, was material that Mr. Fallon had heard at unclassified public meetings with the HIG
Research Committee. Mr. Fallon believes that the redactions were motivated by political
disagreement with Mr. Fallon and his co-author’s perspective on torture and work on the HIG
Mr. Fallon plans to continue submitting to the DOD any draft op-eds, articles,
columns, and books that he writes in the future.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 40 of 42
In Mr. Fallon’s experience, prepublication review has been haphazard and
opaque, and communication from the DOD has been sporadic and unhelpful.
In Mr. Fallon’s experience, the personnel in the DOD’s review board appear to
have no control or influence over the other agencies to which they send authors’ works for
review, and there appears to be a lack of accountability from those offices to the DOD.
Mr. Fallon’s experiences with prepublication review continue to negatively
impact him and deny him the opportunity to contribute to the public debate over breaking news.
He would like to publish op-eds in newspapers about current affairs, but his experiences with the
review process have discouraged him from trying to do so because of potential delays and
unjustified objections by the agency. Mr. Fallon has declined offers to author op-eds and write
articles on topics of public concern in response to breaking news because such events require an
immediate response in light of the ever-changing news cycle. In addition, Mr. Fallon is unsure
how his prepublication review obligations apply in academia—for example, whether he must
submit for review edits he makes to the work of other people, or whether an entire piece written
by someone else becomes subject to review if he adds one or two sentences. This uncertainty
hinders Mr. Fallon’s work and his ability to engage with his colleagues.
Finally, Mr. Fallon worries that the government will retaliate against him by
stripping his security clearance if he does not strictly comply with prepublication review
requirements. This is especially concerning to Mr. Fallon because his consulting work depends
on his access to classified information.
Causes of Action
Defendants’ prepublication review regimes violate the First Amendment because
they invest executive officers with sweeping discretion to suppress speech and fail to include
procedural safeguards designed to avoid the dangers of a censorship system.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 41 of 42
Defendants’ prepublication review regimes are void for vagueness under the First
and Fifth Amendments because they fail to provide former government employees with fair
notice of what they must submit for prepublication review and of what they can and cannot
publish, and because they invite arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement.
Request for Relief
Declare that Defendants’ prepublication review regimes violate the First and
Fifth Amendments to the Constitution;
Enjoin Defendants, their officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and
those persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of the
injunction, from continuing to enforce Defendants’ prepublication review regimes against
Plaintiffs, or any other person;
Award Plaintiffs their costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees in this action; and
Grant Plaintiffs such other relief as this Court may deem just and proper.
Case 8:19-cv-00985-GJH Document 1 Filed 04/02/19 Page 42 of 42
April 2, 2019
Brett Max Kaufman*
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
Knight First Amendment Institute
at Columbia University
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 302
New York, NY 10115
/s/ David R. Rocah
David R. Rocah (Bar No. 27315)
American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 350
Baltimore, MD 21211
Counsel for Plaintiffs
pro hac vice application forthcoming
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?