|Submitted||Dec. 23, 2016|
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To Whom It May Concern:
This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:
Records relating to or mentioning American Border Patrol AKA American Patrol. On the American Patrol website and in self-produced videos, the group rails against Mexican immigrants, accusing them of bringing to the U.S. crime, drugs and squalor and of practicing “immigration via the birth canal.” Mexicans, in the words of group founder Glenn Spencer, are a “cultural cancer” following a secret plan, the Plan de Aztlán, to complete “la reconquista” (the reconquest, or takeover) of the American Southwest, which was once controlled by Spain and/or Mexico.
Glenn Spencer, one of the harder line anti-immigrant ideologues now operating, founded Voice of Citizens Together (VCT, which is more commonly known, like one of his websites and his radio show, as American Patrol) in 1992. According to a 2005 article in LA Weekly, Spencer claims that the sight of “Mexicans” in the Rodney King riots “tearing down [his] old neighborhood” prompted him to start Valley Citizens Together as a way to bring attention to the growing threat of illegal immigration. The name was later changed to Voice of Citizens Together to broaden the group’s appeal. Later, the American Patrol (AP) name was added; today, that name is much more commonly used than Voice of Citizens Together.
Riding a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, Spencer led VCT/AP into a loose federation of groups under the banner of “Save Our State” to lobby for the passage of California's Proposition 187, which would have denied educational and other benefits to illegal immigrants and their children. Although it passed in 1994, Prop 187 was stalled for years in the courts and effectively killed in 1998 by the incoming Gov. Gray Davis.
It was later that year that VCT/AP — along with Barbara Coe’s hard-line California Coalition for Immigration Reform (CCIR) and the better-known Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)— began working with the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC). Coe, Spencer and Rick Oltman, then FAIR’s western regional representative, all came to Cullman, Ala., to speak at a 1998 anti-immigrant rally hosted by the CCC, a group that regularly spews vitriol at black people (“a retrograde species of humanity”). Also attending was an unrobed Alabama Klansman. The event, held to protest a swelling population of Mexican workers in the region, ended with the arrest of one of the rally’s organizers, charged with violating a local ordinance regulating outdoor fires by burning a Mexican flag. It was seen as an early indicator of the mixing of white supremacists and other extremists with more “mainstream” nativist elements.
VCT/AP uses its website, American Patrol Report, and self-produced videos like “Treachery and Treason in America” and “Conquest of Aztlán” to vilify Mexicans, deride so-called fifth-column Latinos, and rant about the allegedly long-planned Mexican invasion of the American Southwest. On the site, Spencer attacked Mario Obledo, a leading Latino activist and recent recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, as “Pinche [a slang Spanish term often translated as “worthless” or “fucking”] Cockroach and 1998 Asshole of the Year.” A cartoon character was depicted urinating on Obledo’s picture. (Bizarrely, Spencer later denied to reporters that the site had ever carried such a caricature.) Spencer posts material on his site from such men as H. Millard, an infamous columnist for the racist Council of Conservative Citizens who once bemoaned the “slimy brown mass of glop” that immigration and interracial families were making of the U.S. population.
VCT/AP’s videos push racist, anti-Latino conspiracy theories. Its video, “Immigration: Threatening the Bonds of Our Union,” which was sent to every member of Congress, purports to prove that the Mexican government and Mexican-Americans are conspiring to take over the American Southwest and create the nation of Aztlán. “Some scoff at the idea of a Mexican plan of conquest,” says the video (which also features a scuffle between VCT and anti-racist activists). The video then proceeds with an assortment of sound bites from Latino activists and Mexican officials — including references to “la reconquista” — that “prove” that there is a Mexican plot to break the Southwestern states away. A “hostile force on our border,” the narrator warns in grim tones, is engaging in “demographic war” against the United States. “Mexico is moving to capture the American Southwest.”
Under the banner of America Patrol, Spencer also ran a weekly radio show that aired in several cities in the late 1990s. On it, he hosted a series of extremist guests, including Kevin MacDonald, a California professor who accuses Jews of pursuing an immigration policy specifically intended to dilute and weaken the white population of America.
Thanks to groups like VCT/AP, variations of the Aztlán conspiracy theory are now widespread on the American radical right and in the much larger nativist movement. Columnists like Sam Francis, the late editor of the Council of Conservative Citizens’ Citizen Informer, have spread the theory throughout the radical right. And MSNBC news commentator and close Francis friend Pat Buchanan, a white nationalist, has helped to more widely publicize variations of the theory, as have other “mainstream” commentators like CNN’s Lou Dobbs.
In 2002, Spencer abandoned California for Cochise County, Ariz., joining several other anti-immigrant activists including Minuteman co-founder Chris Simcox, who have relocated to the southern border. (In a 2003 essay, “White Fight or Flight,” Spencer suggested that white people “should get out of California — now, before it is too late to salvage the equity they have in their homes and the value of their businesses.”) Setting up operations in the Pueblo del Sol subdivision in Sierra Vista, Ariz., Spencer created American Border Patrol (ABP), a private organization that would serve as a “shadow Border Patrol.” (Although it has its own website, ABP is essentially an Arizona extension of his California group, VCT/AP.) Using high-tech sensors, infrared video-cameras mounted on model airplanes, and “citizens” roaming the often mountainous terrain on ATVs, Spencer’s operation was designed to embarrass the federal government into fully militarizing the border by capturing images of undocumented workers on film and uploading them to the American Border Patrol website for all to see.
Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records of both HQ and all field offices for all relevant names, agencies, organizations, companies and events including but not limited to those cited in the previous paragraphs and/or links. My request includes but is not limited to 137, 157, 176, 177, 183, 184, 188, and 214 files. If previously released records are available, then I request a rolling release consisting of those records while additional records are located and processed for release.
I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.
The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.
In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.
The FBI has received your Freedom of Information Act/Privacy (FOIPA) request and it will be forwarded to Initial Processing for review. Your request will be processed under the provisions of FOIPA and a response will be mailed to you at a later date.
Requests for fee waivers and expedited processing will be addressed once your request has been assigned an FOIPA request number. You will receive written notification of the FBI’s decision.
Information regarding the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy is available at http://www.fbi.gov/ or http://www.fbi.gov/foia/. If you require additional assistance please contact the Public Information Officer.
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Please check the status of your request online at https://vault.fbi.gov/fdps-1/@@search-fdps. Status updates are performed on a weekly basis.
A no responsive documents response.
I am appealing the integrity of the search, as the parameters I specified were not met, including but not limited to a failure to search the field offices I requested and a failure to search for all names specified and the failure to perform the cross reference searches with the individuals I identified. Nor was an attempt made to locate correspondence with the SPCL. I specifically requested "a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records of both HQ and all field offices for all relevant names, agencies, organizations, companies and events including but not limited to those cited in the previous paragraphs and/or links as well as a cross-reference with the Southern Poverty Law Center to include any information provided by the SPLC. My request includes but is not limited to 137, 157, 176, 177, 183, 184, 188, 214 and 266 files. If previously released records are available, then I request a rolling release consisting of those records while additional records are located and processed for release."
01/27/2017 05:22 PM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2017-001928
DOJ-AP-2017-001928 has been processed with the following final disposition: Completely reversed/remanded.
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Dec. 23, 2016. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #1363705-000, DOJ-AP-2017-001928.
Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.
A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.
A no responsive documents response.