“Prepublication review” refers to the policy under which many agencies require past and current employees and contractors who have security clearances to submit any written materials that involve information learned during their government service for agency review and clearance before public release.  In other words, government agencies will look at materials that are proposed for public release and make sure they don’t contain protected information, and ensure these materials comply with policies set by government agencies like the Department of Defense and the National Security Agency.          

National ACLU and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University have filed several new FOIA requests for records about prepublication review. Of note, these requests asked for records about the prepublication review process that had occurred for publications by high-ranking government officials including Hillary Clinton, Donald Rumsfeld, Leon Panetta, and Valerie Plame Wilson for the materials included in former FBI director James Comey’s memoir, A Higher Loyalty. These requests have mostly been put on a slow track, with the agencies denying our requests for expedited processing.

As a result, we filed suit in May 2018 to seek documents responsive to our requests under the Freedom of Information Act to learn more about the government’s pre-publication review processes.


Over the next four years the government produced various documents and withheld others. After the parties were able to resolve their differences regarding certain withholdings and attorneys fees, we voluntarily dismissed the case in November 2022.

Pro Bono Law Firm(s)

Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University

Date filed

May 11, 2018