WASHINGTON (CN) — The Department of Defense refuses to disclose emails that should inform public debate about the fitness of Gen. John Kelly to serve as Homeland Security secretary, a Miami Herald reporter claims in court.
The Pentagon “summarily denied” Carol Rosenberg’s Nov. 11, 2016, Freedom of Information Act request for the expedited release of an email exchange between Kelly and Lisa Monaco, former President Barack Obama’s Homeland Security adviser, Rosenberg and the Herald say in the March 10 FOIA complaint.
Congress confirmed Kelly on Jan. 20, but Rosenberg says he drew media scrutiny before his confirmation for statements he’d made about national security.
“This scrutiny revealed some potentially controversial views held by General Kelly, including his opinions about the nature of 'our vicious enemy,' who is 'driven irrationally to our destruction,' as well as his views about appropriate steps to tighten border security," the complaint states.
Rosenberg, who covered Kelly extensively during his tenure as commander of the U.S. Southern Command, said she became aware of the email exchange and filed her request immediately after the election, believing the emails could illuminate Kelly’s views in relation to any national security role he could be offered in then President-elect Trump’s Cabinet.
She says that timely release of the email exchange “would have shed important light on issues debated throughout the period of General Kelly’s nomination, investigation and confirmation.”
Rosenberg says in the complaint that SouthCom determined that she failed to demonstrate a compelling need for expedited processing despite her insistence that the information had relevance to breaking news in the public interest about Kelly’s possible Cabinet nomination.
Although she appealed on Nov. 30, the Pentagon still has not responded to or acknowledged the appeal.
Rosenberg declined to comment, as did her attorney David Schultz with the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale University.
The Department of Defense did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
The email exchange remains relevant to public debate now that Kelly oversees homeland security and immigration issues, which the Trump administration has focused heavily on, the complaint states.
Rosenberg asks the court to expedite consideration of her complaint and to order the Pentagon to provide the email exchange “expeditiously.”