The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), a conservative law firm, has launched a federal lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). At the heart of the controversy is the FBI’s refusal to release the manifesto of Audrey “Aiden” Hale, a trans-identified individual who tragically ended six lives, including three children, at a Christian elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee, in March.
The plaintiffs in the case filed on Thursday—The Star News Network, its editor-in-chief Mike Leahy, and reporter Matt Kittle—had issued a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in April, seeking access to Hale’s manifesto. The FBI denied the request, citing that the material was located in an investigative file exempt from disclosure, and its release could potentially interfere with law enforcement proceedings. The plaintiffs escalated their request to the Department of Justice (DOJ), a prerequisite step mandated by federal law, only to have their appeal dismissed by the Biden administration.
It's been long enough — we are taking @FBI to Court. Biden's highly politicized agency is blocking access to the Nashville Shooter's Manifesto. These records are critical to understand the shooter's motivation & how we can prevent future attacks. See you in court @WILawLiberty pic.twitter.com/wdZmJ5ywZ2
— Dan Lennington (@DanLennington) May 10, 2023
The lawsuit fired back against the FBI’s decision, arguing that, as Hale is deceased, there is no ongoing threat to the public nor any “enforcement proceeding” that the manifesto’s release could disrupt. The complaint stated, “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.”
WILL Deputy Counsel Dan Lennington expressed his concerns over the blocked access to the manifesto, stating, “These records are critical to understand the shooter’s motivation & how we can prevent future attacks.” He also added that the federal government should not get to cherry-pick the information it releases, emphasizing the importance of transparency and holding the federal government accountable.
The case has been widely reported, with a media uproar over the delayed release of the manifesto. Yet, two months after the tragedy, documents that could reveal the killer’s motive remain under wraps. The Nashville Police Department has been advised by legal counsel to withhold the release of records relevant to the school shooting due to ongoing litigation.
The Tennessee Firearms Association has also filed a lawsuit against the Nashville Police Department, alleging a violation of the Tennessee Public Records Act due to the inaccessible manifesto.
It’s reported that Hale’s manifesto will be released once the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit completes its ongoing investigation. Hale’s writings, found both in her vehicle and bedroom, are known to have shown an apparent consideration for the actions of other mass murderers and the planning of a calculated attack over several months.
The ongoing secrecy around the release of Hale’s manifesto leaves many questions unanswered. As the debate around transparency continues, Americans await further developments in this high-profile legal battle. The essence of this case transcends the specifics—it raises serious questions about the federal government’s role in informing the public and maintaining accountability. The pursuit of truth must prevail.