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Buzzfeed Has 20 Bones to Pick With the Pentagon

MANHATTAN (CN) - The Pentagon allegedly stonewalled Buzzfeed's requests for data about detainees in Afghanistan, and you won't believe what happened next.

A 20-paragraph lawsuit.

Known mostly for its listicles and clickbait headlines, Buzzfeed and its investigative reporter Aram Roston filed a federal complaint in Washington on Tuesday against the Department of Defense, seeking information that's sure to get a lot of eyeballs among human-rights lawyers.

"Detainee operations in Afghanistan have received little attention, especially compared to Guantanamo Bay, or Iraq," the five-page complaint states.

"One matter of profound public interest is the transfer of prisoners from Afghanistan to other nations, including Mauritania," Buzzfeed continues. "Task Force 435 was officially the organization charged with all detainee operations in Afghanistan, yet virtually nothing has been reported on it."

But Buzzfeed's Roston, an award-winning national-security reporter who previously worked for NBC and CNN, says he sought to fill that gap with a June 3, 2014, request under the Freedom of Information Act, seeking five categories of records:

"(1) Documents concerning complaints or allegations of misuse of force of brutality, whether by US or other personnel;

"(2) Documents reflecting any death or injuries to detainees in custody or during transfer;

"(3) Documents concerning the use of improper techniques during interrogation;

"(4) Investigative documents concerning misconducting in detainee operations during this period; and

"(5) Documents concerning the transfer of any detainees to Mauritania, Pakistan, and in or out of Afghanistan."

Roston says in his lawsuit: "The records requested will be used for a story or several stories about US detention operations in Afghanistan in recent years, with a focus on Task Force 435."

A day after the request was filed, however, a Pentagon staffer allegedly told Roston in an email that his wish-listicle might be "too broad and burdensome in magnitude as currently described."

Roston says he was informed on Oct. 22, that he was still No. 130 on the Pentagon's list.

Buzzfeed and Roston claim that the Pentagon's ongoing delay violates FOIA statute.

They are represented by veteran FOIA attorney Jeffrey Light.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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