5 USC 552(a)(1,2) documents

Sai filed this request with the SOUTHCOM - US Southern Command of the United States of America.
Tracking #



Est. Completion None
Fix Required


From: Sai

Dear FOIA department:

This is a FOIA request for all records described by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(1, 2), as well as processing records for this request itself.

In particular, I request:

1. All:

a) descriptions of its central and field organization and the established places at which, the employees (and in the case of a uniformed service, the members) from whom, and the methods whereby, the public may obtain information, make submittals or requests, or obtain decisions;
b) statements of the general course and method by which its functions are channeled and determined, including the nature and requirements of all formal and informal procedures available;
c) rules of procedure, descriptions of forms available or the places at which forms may be obtained, and instructions as to the scope and contents of all papers, reports, or examinations;
d) substantive rules of general applicability adopted as authorized by law, and statements of general policy or interpretations of general applicability formulated and adopted by the agency; and
e) each amendment, revision, or repeal of the foregoing.

… except that you may, at your discretion, exclude records published in the Federal Register.

2. All:
a) final opinions, including concurring and dissenting opinions, as well as orders, made in the adjudication of cases;
b) those statements of policy and interpretations which have been adopted by the agency;
c) administrative staff manuals and instructions to staff that affect a member of the public;
d) copies of all records, regardless of form or format that have been requested 3 or more times; and
e) a general index of the records referred to under subparagraph (D); and
f) current indexes providing identifying information for the public as to any matter issued, adopted, or promulgated after July 4, 1967, and identified in paragraphs (A)-(E)

… except that you may, at your discretion, exclude records published in the Federal Register, or available on your online FOIA reading room.

For the purposes of this request, all terms above have the same meaning as they do in 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(1, 2).

I also request:
3. all records relating to the fulfillment of this request

This part of the request is to be processed only AFTER you have completed processing all of the above parts. Do not conduct any search for records under this part earlier than that.

This part does not request that you create any new record; rather, it requests the records that you will have created in processing the above parts, and will therefore exist before you conduct the search for this part. See McGehee v. CIA, 697 F. 2d 1095, 1100-05 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (agency must use time-of-search cut-off date, not time-of-request).

For all responsive records, I also request:

1. all parts of the record (i.e. no portion of a record with some responsive portion may be considered "non-responsive");
2. all versions of the record, whether or not currently in use;
3. all record metadata, such as dates on which they were drafted, passed, went into effect, withdrawn, or similar events; person(s) / office(s) responsible; authors; IDs; revision numbers; etc.;
4. a detailed index of all claims of exemption/privilege, regardless of whether the record is claimed to be exempt in whole or in part;
5. access to inspect the record directly, in its native electronic format; and
6. if any classification applies, mandatory declassification review (MDR) under E.O. 13526, and the result of the MDR, including any declassified records.

For all requests above, the "cut-off date" is, at the earliest, the date that you conduct the search.

Please note that this request is made after the enactment of Public Law No. 114-185, S. 337 (114th), the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 (FOIA IA). The revised statute, as specified in the FOIA IA, applies to this request. FOIA IA § 6. In particular, please note that:

1. you must provide electronic format documents, §§ 552(a)(2) (undesignated preceding text), 552(a)(2)(E) (undesignated following text), 552(a)(3)(B), and 552(a)(3)(C);
2. you may not specify an appeal duration less than 90 days, § 552(a)(6)(C)(A)(i)(III)(aa);
3. you may not withhold any record unless "the agency reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by an exemption described in subsection (b), or disclosure is prohibited by law", § 552(a)(8)(A)(i);
4. you must segregate and partially release records where possible, §§ 552(a)(8)(A)(ii) and 552(b) (undesignated matter following (b)(9)); and
5. you may not claim deliberative process exemption for records more than 25 years old, § 552(b)(5).

This request specifically excludes providing me with new copies of any records which have been already provided to me or published online for free (e.g. on the agency's online "reading room"), in full or identically to the form that would be provided to me under this request (i.e. with exactly the same format, redactions, and claimed exemptions).

This is only an exclusion on providing records under this request that are identical to those already provided to me or available online, and only if I am or have already been provided a link to the online version (if "available online").

This exclusion is only intended to limit unnecessary duplication or provision, not to limit what records are responsive to this request, nor to permit failure to disclose the location of a responsive record available online. If this exclusion would in any way increase the cost or duration to respond to this request, it is to be ignored to the extent it does so.

This request is to be treated as separate from all others that I have filed.

Please forward this request to the FOIA office of every agency component and subcomponent that may have responsive records for independent processing, with a copy to me.

This request includes any records held jointly by your agency in conjunction with any other agency and/or department, in interagency and/or interdepartmental systems of records, or by other agencies or third parties (including contractors) acting pursuant any agreement with your agency.

With the possible exception of the index of records claimed to be exempt or privileged, this request does not ask you to create new records. If you determine that a response would require creating a new record that you do not want to create, please first contact me by email with an explanation of what records you have that would most closely match the information requested and might be acceptable substitutes, so that we can reasonably tailor the request.

In particular, I specifically request that you do not create new documents in response to this request that are modifications of a digital record, such as page-view images, print views, scans, or the like. No such creation or substitution is authorized by FOIA or the Privacy Act.

However, if the same or similar records are held in both electronic and paper formats, this request includes both the paper and electronic versions. The paper version and the digital version are distinct records, and each may contain distinct information such as handwritten or other markings on the paper copy and embedded metadata in the electronic version.

Furthermore, to the extent that the native electronic format is proprietary or otherwise not in format accessible by widely available, open source software, I request that you also provide an export of the proprietary format into a standard, open format, as described below.

Please note that the FOIA requires you to service the maximum extent of my request that can be done via e.g. partial redaction of exempt material. If you believe some portions of a record to be exempt because it contains Sensitive Security Information (SSI, 49 CFR 15, 1520) or classified information (18 USC 798), please provide a version of the record redacted to the minimum extent necessary to remove exempt information (e.g. per 49 CFR 1520.15), along with adequate information to describe the reason for each specific exemption.

In order to help tailor my request, please provide an upfront estimate of the time and cost it will take to complete this request, broken down any significant factors that would affect cost to service, number of records in each category, and your estimate of how many records in the category are likely to be exempt.

Please provide me with incremental updates, with updated estimates for fulfillment of the remainder, rather than having the entirety of the request be blocked until fully completed.

In accordance with 5 USC 552(a)(3)(B, C) (E-FOIA), Rehabilitation Act § 508, and FOIA IA, please respond using native format, electronic, machine-processable, accessible, open, and well structured records to the maximum extent possible. This means, e.g.:

* native format records rather than PDFs or other conversions (note above re providing both native electronic records and scans of paper records, if both exist);
* individual files per distinct source record (e.g. one .msg file per email), named clearly using the record's identifier, title, and date, rather than a single file containing multiple concatenated records;
* records compliant with the Rehabilitation Act § 508, 36 CFR 1194.22, USAB ATBCB-2015-0002, and I​SO 14289­-1;
* fully digital text records rather than scans, rasterizations, or OCR;
* complete electronic records, as held on any computer (including phones, servers, backup servers, mail servers, workstations, etc.), including all headers and attachments, fully expanded e-mail addresses, full addresses for address "aliases", full lists for "distribution list" aliases, all embedded and external metadata, complete bitwise digital copies of the original file, all file headers, and all other file content;
* blackout rather than whiteout redactions, with every redaction marked with all exemption(s) claimed for that redaction;
* digital redactions rather than black marker or rasterization;
* lists and structured data as machine-processable spreadsheets (e.g. CSV, SQL, XSL) rather than word documents (e.g. DOC, PDF, TXT, RTF) or partial printouts (e.g. PDF);
* open format records (e.g. PDF, AVI, MPG) rather than proprietary format records (e.g. WordPerfect, Microsoft Advanced Systems Format (ASF)) (note above re providing both original, proprietary format records and open format records);
* scans rather than paper copies;
* digital audio/video files rather than physical tapes;
* upload to your Electronic Reading Room (or other publicly accessible server) rather than personal transfer (for all items other than the item requesting records related to me or my requests);
* email or (S)FTP file transfer rather than CD;
* email correspondence rather than physical mail; etc.

Multiple files may be sent in a combined, compressed form using standard ZIP, TAR, GZIP, BZIP2, and/or RAR formats, or sent as separate files, at your discretion.

However, do not use a password on any files, including ZIP files etc. If a password was present in the native format, leave it unaltered, send me the password.

If there are any files you prefer not to transfer by email (e.g. if they are more than 10MB), please upload them to me via the link listed below my signature.

Doing so is secure, completely free to you, and the files uploaded will go to me directly.

Please note that this request does not request that you physically "duplicate" records, as I do not want you to create any paper or other physical copy for me — I only want electronic versions (or scans, for records that are not fully available in electronic form). As such, I expect there to be no duplication related costs.

Furthermore, I specifically request access for inspection of the records, including direct electronic access, in native format, to any electronic records.

I am not currently willing to pay for servicing this request. I may be willing to pay if it is necessary; please send a detailed explanation of the costs and their statutory justification, and service the maximum extent of the request that can be done for free in the meantime.

I request that, pending fee waiver determination or appeal, you proceed with this request as if it were in the "other non-commercial requester" category.

This request is a qualified request for journalistic, public interest purposes (entitling me to fully waived fees). As such, I request public interest fee waiver and journalistic fee waiver.

1. I have no commercial interest in these records.

2. I am a representative of the news media and entitled to waiver of all search fees.

I intend and am able to host and publish all received records online to the general public at no charge, as well to publish highlights, analyses, summaries, commentaries, and other creative, original journalistic work about responsive records through multiple online publications, such as https://plus.google.com/+saizai, https://twitter.com/saizai, and https://s.ai/foia (among others).

I also have a standing agreement with BoingBoing to publish articles about these matters, under my byline, on boingboing.net.

I have previously made journalistic publication, extraction, commentary, and analysis based on my FOIA/PA requests, e.g. relating to TSA, DHS, DOJ, and USPS activities, which have gotten widespread public interest, attention, and comment, and resulted in secondary journalistic publications based on my original work. This includes publications such as The New York Times, Forbes, Bloomberg/BNA, ABC News/Fusion, RT America News, RightThisMinute, and BoingBoing. I intend to do the same with this request.

3. The records are of significant public interest, entitled to waiver of all duplication fees, since

a) as above, I both am able and intend to disseminate the files widely;
b) they would contribute greatly to the public understanding of the operations and activities of your agency, in that they are records that directly describe agency operations and activities, as well as the issues and matters described at the top of this letter;
c) they are not currently readily available;
d) their existence constitutes prima facie evidence of your agency's violation of Congress' explicit command in 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(1, 2) that your agency publish all the primary requested records; and
e) Congress has statutorily mandated that they be published freely, i.e. made a statutory finding that they are records of such significant public interest that they must be published without any request.

4. As mentioned above, I am explicitly not asking for any physical duplication, but rather direct server-to-server file transfer or email (or posting on your website). The FOIA authorizes duplication fees strictly limited to your agency's actual costs, and mandates that your agency use the cheapest available requested methods. I consider the actual costs for server-to-server file transfer to be reasonably estimated by, e.g., Amazon S3's pricing (https://aws.amazon.com/s3/pricing/).

If you have any questions or updates about this request, please contact me by email.

Please ensure that all of your responses comply with § 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, 36 CFR 1194.22, and UESB NPRM ATBCB-2015-0002.

In particular, please make all correspondence pursuant to this request — including notification and responsive records — by email, with native electronic format records, as specified in the request. I do not authorize you to send anything to me by physical mail unless I specifically state otherwise.

My email address is sufficient for all response to this request, and I can provide you with free means of electronic transfer for records too large to email.

Do not respond using ZixCorp "Secure Mail" or any other method that "expires" records from being available. Use only actual email and direct attachments, unless I explicitly request otherwise.

Please let me know your tracking number(s) for this request upon receipt, as well as your specific estimated completion date. 5 USC 552(a)(7).

If you believe that any of the requested items are not reasonably described, or that you need any further information regarding my qualification for fee waivers, please be specific about what you consider vague and what questions I can answer that would clarify them.

This request is made via MuckRock. You may provide responsive records either directly to me (see below my sig), or via MuckRock, as described below.

Sai (Note: Sai is my full legal name; I am mononymic.)
President, SaiCorp, Inc.
SaiCorp is an organization devoted to public interest journalism, government transparency and accountability, individuals' civil rights, and related issues.

NOTE: This request is made on behalf of both myself, Sai (in personal capacity) and SaiCorp, Inc. (in official capacity).

Phone: +1 510 394 4724 (please leave voicemail if I do not pick up)
Email: foia@saizai.com
Upload link: https://www.dropbox.com/request/kbR4D5SjIrVxm1eE4uHn
Other identifiers for search purposes: "Sai", "saizai", "SaiCorp", "saizai.com", "s.ai", "i@s.ai", "legal@s.ai", "dccc@s.ai", "foia@saizai.com", "tsa@saizai.com", "saizai@gmail.com"
Physical mail: 500 Westover Dr. #4514, Sanford, NC 27330

NOTE: Do not physically mail responsive records without my explicit request. Send all records in native electronic form, as described above.

From: Londono, Samuel CIV SOUTHCOM (US)


Dear Sai,

1. I write to seek clarification re: your FOIA request below.

2. With the exception of your 2 d), I am pretty confident U.S. Southern Command, to include its subordinate elements, won't have the information requested. (Unless I'm reading incorrectly your FOIA request, the Office of the Secretary of Defense may have the information you seek.)

3. Note on your 2 d). Per your FOIA request, information on our reading room doesn't have to be provided.

4. In light your FOIA request (which, in large part mirrors 5 USCS 552), coupled with the type of organization that we are, can you please provide additional information re your request?


From: Londono, Samuel CIV SOUTHCOM (US)


Dear Sai,

I'm following up with the email below.

If we don't hear from you by the end of the month, 31 Oct 17, we'll administratively close this FOIA request.


From: Sai

Thank you for your response. Responding out of order:

2. Why do you believe that SOUTHCOM would not have any 2(d) records? Has it never received 3 or more FOIA requests for the same material?

3. Correct, you need not provide any response for my item 2 about any material published on your FOIA reading room (or the FR).

1, 4. As for clarification, I refer you to the DoJ's FOIA Guide: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/oip/legacy/2014/07/23/proactive-disclosures.pdf

What I have requested is simply all records that are described by 5 USC 552(a)(1), (2), which you have not yet published in the FR (for (a)(1)) or either the FR or your online FOIA reading room (for (a)(2)), i.e. for which you have already violated the statute's affirmative requirement for proactive disclosure.

You need not respond as to any records which *are* properly published on the FR (for (a)(1)) or FR / online FOIA reading room (for (a)(2)).

Ideally, your response would be to certify that you have no responsive records because you have already published all of them — i.e. that you have fully complied with the proactive disclosure requirements.

However, if you have not, then my request requests all such records.




Dear Sai, We haven't forgotten about you. I'll respond to you next week in greater detail.




Dear Sai, Thank you for your clarification. We'll work your FOIA request and respond as soon as we can.

Also, in a separate correspondence, we'll provide you with the case control number, which will help to track this specific FOIA request.

Happy Holidays. Sam


The request has been rejected by the agency.



Mr. Sai,

We're currently actively working on the respond to your FOIA request. Please expect a final response within the next 3 weeks or earlier if possible.

Thank you for your patience.


Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
United States Southern Command
9301 NW 33rd | Doral, FL 33172
Office: 305-437-1108
DSN: 567-1108
Fax: 305-437-1320
OMB: southcom.miami.sc-cc.mbx.southcomfoia@mail.mil
NIPR: marco.t.villalobos.civ@mail.mil
SIPR: marco.t.villalobos.civ@mail.smil.mil
JWICS: Marco.T.Villalobos@coe.ic.gov


A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Sai

I appeal all of DoD & its components' denials of my multi-agency 552(a)(1,2) request, as well as the patterns & practices that they embody.

Your records indicate that your rejection of my request has been applied across DoD. See e.g. <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43159/#file-182920> at Bates SC 055 / PDF page 57.

Therefore, for uniformity, I direct this appeal to DoD and ALL DoD components for this multi-agency request.

This appeal includes the following requests:

ACC FOIA No. FP-17-029720
ACC FOIA No. FP-18-001128
Army CA&LSD FA-17-0234
Army CRC FA18-2911
Army CRC FA18-3013
Army CRC FA18-3321
CENTCOM 17-0719 (no response letter received; see <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43207/>)
DOD OIG DODOIG-2017-000960
EUCOM 18F004
JCS 17-F-1622
JCS 18-F-0151
NORTHCOM 18-AC-0018-A1
NORTHCOM 18-AC-0019-A1
NRC FOIA-PA-2017-00694
NRC FOIA-PA-2018-00042
NRO F-2017-00174
NRO F-2018-00009
NSA Case # 102573
OFOI 17-A-1622-A1
PACOM 18-AC-0020-A1
PACOM 2017-F-94
SOCOM 2017-347
STRATCOM 18-AC-0016-A1
STRATCOM 18-AC-0017-A1
TRANSCOM 18-AC-0021-A1
USACE FP-17-030543

It also includes these requests, for which no number was assigned:

Air Force <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43193/>
Army APG ATEC <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43206/>
Army BIMA / DFBA <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43198>
Army Dugway Proving Ground https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43200/ (also, reply not received)
Army HQ <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43240/>
Army IG <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43230/>
Army, Office of the Chief of Chaplains <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43187/>
Coast Guard / INV <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43199/>
DIA <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43225/>
DoD <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43247/>
DTIC <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43162/>
Naval CIS <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43218/>
Navy, Naval Operations <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43150/>

1. Your reading of 5 USC 552(a)(3)(A) is incorrect.

The exemption clause of (a)(3)(A) says "Except with respect to the records *made available* under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection," (emphasis added).

My request is explicitly directed at records described by (a)(1,2), but which you have NOT made available as required by those sections.

Because the request specifically encompasses those records for which you have violated the proactive disclosure requirement (a)(3)(A) does not apply.

Furthermore, my request specifically asks for § 508 accessible, native electronic records. Records that may be available in some format, but not in the accessible format that I requested, are also properly included in my request, and may not be denied for being available in some other format.

2. My request was very clearly described.

a) The primary element requests all records described by 552(a)(1,2) that have not are not currently publicly available in accordance with that statute.

b) If you have fully complied with the statute, then your response should be to certify that there are no responsive records to that part of my request because all such records are publicly available online (in § 508 accessible format).

Otherwise, you have to provide all the records you should have published proactively, but did not (in violation of the law).

c) If you are claiming that the text of 552(a)(1,2) does not reasonably describe the records it covers, your only recourse is to Congress or to sue the United States to invalidate the statute as void for vagueness.

If you are not, then you know what I requested, and I request that you fulfill it promptly.

3. Your responses (both in letters and records provided) are not in the format I requested — native, electronic, & § 508 accessible, and compliant with USEB NPRM ATBCB-2015-0002.

To be clear on the record: I am partially blind. All communications and records provided must be fully accessible by screen reader (e.g. VoiceOver) to be compliant.

Please provide the records — including all responses to my requests — in the format requested.

4. SOUTHCOM's rejection letter is incomplete.

See <https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/5-usc-552a12-documents-43159/#file-181595>.

The letter is cut off at the first page.

5. I challenge all withholdings.

Re (b)(6) & (b)(7), none of the records requested are personnel records, invasive of personal privacy, or compiled for law enforcement purposes. You have not given any good basis for these redactions.

Re (b)(5), you have not provided any basis to believe that your (b)(5) withholdings are justified. FOIA puts the burden on you to prove exemption. For instance, factual & post-decisional material is not exempt under (b)(5). You have given no indication that *none* of the (b)(5) withholdings are factual or post-decisional.

6. Processing meta-request responses are incomplete

Some responses, e.g. NSA Case # 102573, have refused to answer the FOIA fulfillment parts of request based on the existence of records at the time of my request.

This violates clearly established law. See McGehee v. CIA, 697 F. 2d 1095, 1100-05 (D.C. Cir. 1983) (agency must use time-of-search cut-off date, not time-of-request).

Some components provided an incomplete response, providing merely the intake record and not the actual processing records for the request.

Either version violates the clear intent and express dictate of my request, which states that the search for the meta / FOIA-fulfillment portions must occur after the search for the primary portion — because the records of processing the primary portion of my request are exactly what my meta-records portion requests.

I prefer that the meta-records request be considered part of the single request, for tracking purposes. I disprefer, do not object to, it being interpreted as a separate request to be processed after the primary request.

However, you may not deliberately interpret my request in such a way that you know will fail to provide the requested records.



Good Morning Sai,

Thank you for the submission of your appeal for SOUTHCOM request SC-18045-S (Appeal #19-AC-0007-A1). You will need to submit separate appeals for the additional requests listed in your appeal. Please also note, our office cannot accept appeals without an initial request number.

FOIA Appeals Team