CBP Talking Points or Q&A Documents

Jason Smathers filed this request with the United States Customs and Border Protection of the United States of America.
Tracking #




From: Jason Smathers

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

All Talking Points and Q&A documents created since January 1, 2009.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.

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 10 business days, as the statute requires.


Jason Smathers

From: Customs and Border Patrol

  • Fix required for Customs & Border Patrol Talking Points Request

From: Jason Smathers

I requested billing according to the news media status and have no commercial interests in making this request. You stated you are billing according to the commercial requester billing category. This is inappropriate, please confirm you have moved this request to the news media fee category.

To further narrow this request, I request all computer files responsive to a search for "talking points" on the computers assigned to Maria Luisa O’Connell or any other person directly or indirectly working for her.

From: Customs and Border Protection

Dear Mr. Smathers:

This acknowledges receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to U.S. Customs and Border Protection dated January 3, 2011, you further narrowed your request to "all computer files responsive to a search for "talking points" on the computers assigned to Maria Luisa O'Connell or any other person directly or indirectly working for her."

After careful review of your FOIA request, we have still determined that your request is too broad in scope or did not specifically identify the records which you are seeking. Records must be described in reasonably sufficient detail to enable government employees who are familiar with the subject area to locate records without placing an unreasonable burden upon the agency. For this reason, §5.3(b) of the DHS regulations, 6 C.F.R. Part 5, require that you describe the records you are seeking with as much information as possible to ensure that our search can locate them with a reasonable amount of effort. Whenever possible, a request should include specific information about each record sought, such as the date, title or name, author, recipients, and subject matter of the records, if known, or the DHS component or office you believe created and/or controls the record. The FOIA does not require an agency to create new records, answer questions posed by requesters, or attempt to interpret a request that does not identify specific records.

Please resubmit your request containing a reasonable description of the records you are seeking. Your request must give an identified time period and subject matter for the talking points you are requesting. Upon receipt of a perfected request, you will be advised as to the status of your request.

If we do not hear from you within 30 days from the date of this letter, we will assume you are no longer interested in this FOIA request, and the case will be administratively closed. Please be advised that this action is not a denial of your request and will not preclude you from filing other requests in the future.

If you need to reach this office, you may call us direct at 202-325-0150 and refer to file number 2011F01993.

With regards,

Elissa Kay
FOIA Division, Branch Chief
Customs and Border Protection
799 9th Street, NW, Mint Annex
Washington, DC 20229
202-325-0150 (FOIA Main #)
202-325-0450 (Fax)
'Life isn't about how to survive the storm but how to dance in the rain.'

From: Jason Smathers

I requested "all computer files responsive to a search for 'talking points' on the computers assigned to Maria Luisa O’Connell or any other person directly or indirectly working for her."

This is a very specific request. Per your request, I am willing to narrow it to records created on or after 1/20/2009.

If you are unwilling to conduct a search for these specifically described records, please provide details to file an appeal.

From: Customs and Border Patrol

From: Customs and Border Protection

From: Jason Smathers

I have absolutely no commercial interest in this request. I stated that the request was for news media purposes. If you require additional information concerning my status as a member of the news media, please let me know. However, charging me fees as a commercial requester is absolutely inappropriate. Please provide me a new fee estimate based on my proper fee category.

Thank you.

Jason Smathers

From: CBP FOIA Division

In order to properly address your fee category, please provide us additional information that would allow us to make the correct determination.

In addition, under FOIA regulations you will need to provide an original signature with your FOIA request in order for it to be considered perfected.


CBP FOIA Division

From: Jason Smathers

I write for Witnesses Unto Me. You can view my past news media stories by going to www.witnessesuntome.com and clicking the News link in the top menu bar.

I intend to take the documents you provide and turn them into a unique work using my editorial skills.

I have a track record of publishing news stories to an audience and I intend to do the same with these records.

From: Customs and Border Protection

From: Jason Smathers

I appeal. The FOIA amendments of 2007 no longer permit you to charge search fees after failing to meet a statutory time limit. You failed to respond in a timely manor and must forego charging search fees. I hereby agree to pay the $8.40 duplication fee for 184 pages, the first 100 being free and 10 cents per page for 84 pages extra. However, I prefer you provide the file on CD ROM or by email to avoid printing 184 pages.


From: Customs and Border Protection

From: Jason Smathers

Please provide me with the documents found in the first two hours of search time without charge for search time.


From: Customs and Border Protection

From: Customs and Border Protection

From: Customs and Border Protection

From: Customs and Border Protection

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Nov. 2, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2011F01993.

Thank you for your help.