This is a request for expedited processing and fee waiver status under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:
Any and all documents possessed by the Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs pertaining to the Belfast Project.
All processing notes produced as a result of this request should also be included.
The Belfast Project, started in 2001 and concluded in 2006, is a collection of oral histories currently kept at Boston College, and created by journalists Ed Maloney and Dr. Anthony McIntyre, for the purpose of documenting and preserving an historical account of the period in Northern Ireland known as "The Troubles". This request seeks all responsive documents starting from 2011, when the Department of Justice, through the US/UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (US/UK MLAT) on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), subpoenaed Boston College for interviews conducted as part of this oral history project.
This request includes but is not limited to: any and all emails, memorandums, briefs and reports, and audio/visual presentations, as exchanged with the UK Home Office and/or Police Service of Northern Ireland under the US/UK Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty.
This request does not exclude any other records which, though not specifically requested, would have a reasonable relationship to the subject matter of this request. I also expect to be provided with all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material.
The time frame for this request includes all responsive documents from 1 January 2011 up to and including the date this request is officially processed.
My request for expedited processing should be granted without delay, as the Belfast Project is a matter of continuing press coverage, and has generated much interest from the general public as well as academic circles. Indeed, a simple Google search for "Belfast Project" yields over 31,000 results which include major international and national media outlets ranging from The Guardian, The Irish Times, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, in addition to a multitude of academic journals, and more.
I also believe my request for a fee waiver should be granted, because this request is in the public interest. As a member of the news media, I will use information gleaned from responsive records released to MuckRock.com to produce work that will be made available to the general public free of charge and not for commercial usage.
Please reference these clippings as evidence of my news media status:
Additionally, your office should grant my fee waiver request because of MuckRock News' mission statement as evidenced on its 'About' page (https://www.muckrock.com/about/):
MuckRock News has been recognized by "the Sunlight Foundation, The Freedom of the Press Foundation, and hundreds of local and national news outlets for its groundbreaking work in areas such as government spending, surveillance, and public safety.
In addition, MuckRock works with journalists to help conceive, pursue, and publish original stories on issues that matter with exclusive primary materials obtained via public records law."
In the event that fees cannot be waived, 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.
Director Office of Information Policy United States Department of Justice Suite 11050 1425 New York Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530-0001
To Whom It May Concern:
Please consider this an appeal to your agency's (b)(7)(A) denial for case #CRM-300452623 and related administrative file (processing notes), which I also requested.
In determining records that may be withheld which fall under the “compiled for law enforcement purposes” category, per (b)(7), D.C. Circuit Court established a two-part "rational nexus test" Pratt v. Webster, 673 F.2d 408, 419-21 (D.C. Cir. 1982).
Your agency's response and denial of my request clearly does not meet the burden established in Pratt v. Webster, 673 F.2d 408, 419-21, as I will demonstrate in this appeal.
First, in its response, your agency failed to identify both “a particular individual or a particular incident as the object of its investigation and the connection between that individual or incident and a possible security risk or violation of federal law.” Pratt, 673 F.2d at 420
Secondly, your agency did not establish a substantive connection between any real or alleged investigation and your agency's law enforcement responsibilities by demonstrating “information sufficient to support at least ‘a colorable claim’ of its rationality", as the second part of the D.C. Circuit test requires, nor did your agency state even a “pretextual or wholly unbelievable” basis. Pratt, 673 F.2d at 420
Furthermore, in order for an agency to properly claim 7(A) exemption, it must provide more information about 1) any real or alleged investigation sought records would pertain to, and 2) how or why the release of these records would negatively impact any real or alleged investigation.
Your agency did not “describe with any reasonable degree of particularity the subject matter of" any real or alleged investigation or "proceeding", nor did you indicate, even in passing, any of "the parties involved, when such proceedings might occur, or how the information withheld here might be used by these hypothetical parties to interfere with these hypothetical proceedings.” Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 658 F.Supp.2d 217, 225, 228-29 (D.D.C. 2009)
Furthermore, your agency has a duty to release and segregate any and all non-exempt information. 5 U.S.C. § 552 (b); See also Neufeld v. Internal Revenue Serv., 646 F.2d 661, 662-663 (D.C. Cir. 1981). This duty to segregate also ensures that an agency does not make “sweeping, generalized claims of exemption for documents." Mead Data Cent., Inc., v. U.S. Dep’t of Air Force, 566 F.2d 242, 260 (D.C. Cir. 1977)
Thank you in advance for your time and attention to this matter. I expect a final determination within the required statutory time frame.
The attached Freedom of Information Act appeal was submitted via mail on October 10, 2014. Acknowledgment of receipt has not yet been provided. Please advise as to the status of both this appeal's delivery and its processing.
I'm following up with your office to check on the status of this appeal. The last notification I received was on 10.31.14. Please advise as to the status of both this appeal's delivery and its processing.