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'Transgender' school shooter Audrey HaleYouTube/Screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — A news agency has sued the Biden administration’s Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for failing to grant a request to obtain the manifesto of the gender-confused shooter who killed six people in Nashville earlier this year. 

Represented by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), Star News Digital Media, Inc., based in Nashville, Tennessee, filed a lawsuit against the FBI for failing to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to release shooter Audrey Hale’s manifesto. The document has been kept hidden from the public since the tragic murder took place at The Covenant School on March 27. 

The outlet’s CEO and editor-in-chief Michael Patrick Leahy and investigative reporter and national political editor Matthew Kittle are also listed as plaintiffs in the case. According to the complaint, they “requested the manifesto from FBI under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) on April 20, 2023.” The request was “denied” by the federal agency, which claimed “that releasing the manifesto ‘could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.’” 

Despite properly submitted requests and a follow-up appeal to the agency’s rejection, the news outlet was denied its legal rights to access the manifesto. 

“Hale is dead and no threat remains to the public related to the events of March 27,” the complaint reads. “There is no criminal prosecution, investigation, or anything resembling an ‘enforcement proceeding.’ It has been long enough, and the public has an urgent right to know why this tragedy happened, how future events may be prevented, and what policies should be in place to address this and other similar tragedies. FBI has no right to retain a monopoly on this information.” 

In addition to a FOIA request, the plaintiffs also “requested expedited processing,” including all required paperwork and “facts proving that Star News satisfied the criteria” to be granted the request. Following the initial denial, the plaintiffs filed an appeal with the Department of Justice Office of Information Policy on April 25, which was denied on May 5. The complaint notes that while the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) has also not released the manifesto, the agency hasn’t “made such a claim” that releasing the document would interfere with the investigation.

READ: Biden attacks states banning transgender mutilation of children after Nashville shooting  

MNPD was reportedly planning to release the manifesto prior to May 3, though the agency “backtracked” that plan due to pending litigation but “did not cite any interference with ‘enforcement proceedings.’” 

The complaint also outlined several cases in which other news outlets were given manifestos or notes written by mass shooters just days or weeks after various tragedies occurred.  

“One could speculate as to why FBI has released so many other manifestos, but not this one. But such speculation is unnecessary for the purposes of this lawsuit. The simple fact is that FBI has not justified its refusal to release this manifesto under FOIA; there is no reasonable chance release would interfere with an ‘enforcement proceeding’ under FOIA’s exception.” 

The complaint reiterated that the “FBI is an agency subject to FOIA” and should be required to comply with the news outlet’s request, especially since the agency “has identified no legitimate reason why the public should be prohibited from seeing the manifesto…from a deceased assailant.” 

Through the lawsuit, plaintiffs are asking for “an order enjoining the FBI from withholding the manifesto and ordering its production, including a preliminary and permanent injunction; a declaration that FBI violated FOIA by denying Plaintiffs’ requests for the manifesto [and] an order retaining jurisdiction to ensure that FBI’s release of the manifesto to Plaintiffs does not improperly withhold portions and FBI otherwise complies with FOIA in this matter.” 

“The release of these records is critical to understanding the mind and actions of a mass murderer and can help form public policy to most effectively protect American citizens,” CEO and editor-in-chief Leahy said about the lawsuit. “We believe the public’s right to know is so important that we are willing to challenge the most powerful law enforcement agency in America.” 

Deputy counsel for WILL Lucas Vebber said that “the federal government does not get to pick and choose whether they release information that lawfully belongs to the public. Our efforts are critical to holding our federal government accountable and promoting transparency.” 

Although the manifesto remains hidden from the public, MNPD shared some additional information about the shooter and the tragedy in the days after the murder. During a press conference after the incident, police revealed that the gender confused woman who killed three 9-year-old children and three adults was in legal possession of seven guns. Hale’s parents, with whom the 28-year-old still lived at the time of the shooting, told police that they didn’t want her to have weapons due to an “emotional disorder” for which she was being treated. 

The following week, police updated the public once again, sharing the information that while Hale had “acted totally alone” in the shooting, she had also been “planning over a period of months to commit mass murder at The Covenant School.” 


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