Cell site simulator policy and training documents (DEA)

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the Drug Enforcement Administration of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Tracking # DOJ-AP-2016-002047
Status
Completed

Communications

From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

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

All policies, directives, manual sections, and reporting guidelines for the deployment of cell site simulators (aka StingRays or ISMI catchers) in the course of DEA investigations.

Given that this FOIA is submitted in my capacity as a journalist who has covered the Justice Department and StingRays extensively, I request that I be categorized as a media requester for the purpose of fees. Here is a selection of my published articles on MuckRock:

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/jan/12/how-843-lbs-seized-pot-lead-customs-and-border-pro/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/mar/03/us-marshals-service-conceal-key-details-millions-s/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/feb/27/while-dodging-direct-question-fbi-commits-obama-st/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/feb/27/while-dodging-direct-question-fbi-commits-obama-st/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/feb/12/fbi-and-justice-department-cant-find-drone-privacy/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/jan/22/air-force-knows-how-many-mq-9-drones-it-wants-cant/

I have also been published in a number of national media outlets on topics pertaining to national security, law enforcement and technology:

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-us-spent-360-million-on-border-drones-thanks-to-this-flimsy-report

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-air-force-says-it-needs-precisely-52-new-reaper-drones-cant-explain-why

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/do-the-fbis-drones-invade-your-privacy-sorry-thats-private

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/08/big-brother-better-police-work-new-technology-automatically-runs-license-plates-everyone/1qoAoFfgp31UnXZT2CsFSK/story.html

www.betaboston.com/news/2014/03/05/a-vast-hidden-surveillance-network-runs-across-america-powered-by-the-repo-industry/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/05/nypd-social-media-policy-allows-catfishing-with-the-proper-paperwork.html

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2014/12/03/the-pentagon-finally-details-its-weapons-for-cops-giveaway

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/do-the-fbis-drones-invade-your-privacy-sorry-thats-private

https://news.vice.com/article/fbi-agent-who-killed-boston-bombing-suspects-friend-was-twice-accused-of-police-brutality

As the requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com and pertains to a matter of considerable public interest, I further request a full waiver of all fees.

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.

Sincerely,

Shawn Musgrave

From: Drug Enforcement Administration

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello -

Please clarify why I have been categorized as a non-media, non-commercial requester for this request (15-00697-F), but was appropriately categorized as a media requester for my request regarding confidential informants (15-00699-F).

I am appropriately categorized as a media requester.

Best,
Shawn Musgrave
Reporter, MuckRock

From: Drug Enforcement Administration

An interim response, stating the request is being processed.

From: DEA.FOIA

Mr. Musgrave

This email is in further response to your recent emails dated August 10, 2015, regarding the above FOIA cases. Be advised that after further review, we have change the “Requester Category” from “All Others” to “Media” for the above FOIA cases. We regret any confusion that our oversight has caused you.

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 July 27, 2015. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #15-00697-F.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From: Drug Enforcement Administration

An interim response, stating the request is being processed.

From: Drug Enforcement Administration

An interim response, stating the request is being processed.

From: Drug Enforcement Administration

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Drug Enforcement Administration

A cover letter granting the request and outlining any exempted materials, if any.

From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

I hereby appeal all redactions in documents sent to me by the DEA in response to FOIA #15-00697, as well as the adequacy of the search conducted by the DEA for responsive documents.

On July 27, 2015, I requested the following records from the DEA:

"All policies, directives, manual sections, and reporting guidelines for the deployment of cell site simulators (aka StingRays or ISMI catchers) in the course of DEA investigations."

In a released dated January 28, 2016, the DEA provided me with 8 pages of records. Seven pages were redacted in their entirety under a blanket application of exemptions b(5), b(7)(c), b(7)(E), and b(7)(F). Half of the eighth page was likewise withheld under the exemptions. Foremost, the DEA did not provide any explanation as to how the invoked exemptions are applicable to the specific portions of the documents redacted. Rather, as is the DEA's habit, the agency's FOIA office simply referred me to an attached sheet with check marks for the invoked exemptions and generic descriptions of each exemption. The DEA's cover letter does not make any attempt to explain how the invoked exemptions are relevant to the current release of documents.

Beyond failing to explain the relevance of invoked exemptions, the DEA has applied redactions in a blanket fashion, rather than construing them narrowly as is required under the FOIA. To start, exemption b(5) — the "deliberative process" exemption — is clearly inapplicable here, given that at least a portion of the 8-page release is an instruction of steps to be taken pursuant to a September 2015 memorandum from the Justice Department regarding deployment of cell site simulators. An unredacted portion of the document directs employees of the DEA, "the following requirements will be implemented immediately." There is no indication that such instructions are a draft, but rather the unredacted language suggests that it is a definitive document that enshrines final policy.

The DEA similarly invoked several planks within the b(7) law enforcement exemption. Simply indicating that a document pertains to law enforcement or investigative matters is insufficient under the FOIA to withhold a document or portions therein. The DEA has failed to explain how the document or its redacted portions contain information the release of which would infringe on the agency's investigative capacity or threaten public safety.

The document cites as its foundation a Justice Department memorandum from September 2015 which was published on the department's website: http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-enhanced-policy-use-cell-site-simulators

Such a citation of a public document calls into question the redaction of the present document. The DEA has failed to justify its extensive redactions pursuant to b(7).

Finally, the DEA claims to have only located a total of 8 pages in response to my request. Such a claim casts considerable doubt on the adequacy of the DEA's search. Given that the DEA has been using cell site simulator technology for at least ten years, it is difficult to believe that the agency has one sole memorandum dated September 2015 regarding its use. Furthermore, given the technical details that underlie the operation of StingRays, it is likewise difficult to believe that DEA agents are trained on the technology's operations solely by verbal instruction. In response to a similar request, the FBI released hundreds of pages of slides from training sessions. I expect that the DEA has many such presentations that would be clearly covered under the present FOIA request.

In light of the above, I request that you remand this request back to the DEA for a good faith search and provision of responsive documents. Such a good faith response must include particularized explanation for all invoked exemptions that justify the redaction or withholding of documents.

Respectfully,
Shawn Musgrave

From: OIP-NoReply

Please do not reply to this e-mail, as this account is not monitored. To ensure a prompt reply, please direct any inquiries to the contact information listed in the correspondence provided to you. Thank you.

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

DOJ-AP-2016-001270 has been processed with the following final disposition: Affirmed on Appeal -- Other -- Agency Performed Adequate Search.

  • Musgrave, Shawn, AP-2016-00499, DEA, affirm 4, 6, 7E, search-signed

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

DOJ-AP-2016-002047 has been processed with the following final disposition: Completely reversed/remanded.

  • Musgrave, Shawn 16-002047 (8-31-16) remand.further.processing

From: Drug Enforcement Administration

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

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