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Public Citizen Sues Defense Department for Withholding Public Information on Trump Military Parade Planning

March 5, 2018

Public Citizen Sues Defense Department for Withholding Public Information on Trump Military Parade Planning

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is violating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by refusing to release records regarding plans for a Trump military parade in Washington, D.C., or New York City, Public Citizen said in a lawsuit filed today.

Public Citizen on Sept. 26 filed a FOIA request with the DOD’s Office of the Secretary of Defense seeking all records reflecting communications between the DOD and the White House and between the DOD and the National Park Service about the use of military personnel or military equipment in parades in the District of Columbia or New York City. The DOD acknowledged Public Citizen’s request by letter on Sept. 29 and said that it would search for responsive records. But the department has yet to provide any documents.

President Donald Trump wants his military parade to be held on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, according to a memo written by National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and obtained by Politico.

“Not to rain on Trump’s parade, but this entire exercise begs the question: Is making a reality TV-style spectacle of the U.S. military really the best use of the Defense Department’s time, money and talent?” said Rick Claypool, research director for Public Citizen’s president’s office. “With Trump’s budget proposal threatening to impose steep cuts in vital programs for working families while at the same time sharply increasing military spending, the public deserves answers about what is being planned.”

Public Citizen in February queried DOD officials about the status of the FOIA request; an agency representative responded by saying she couldn’t say when the request would be fulfilled.

“Months have passed since we filed our request, and the DOD has failed to respond,” said Adina Rosenbaum, the Public Citizen lawyer who filed the case. “The agency cannot just sit on our request.”

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare that the DOD’s failure to disclose the records requested by Public Citizen is unlawful and to order the DOD to release the requested records concerning the Trump military parade.

“November 11 will be the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended the horrific slaughter of World War I,” said Gerry Condon, president of Veterans For Peace. “Many veterans are very concerned about a public display of military might at this time. We deserve to know what is being planned.” Learn more about the case here.