Emma Best filed this request with the U.S. Department of State of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Tracking #





From: Michael Best

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 Peter Deriabin (1921-1992) (Петр Дерябин), who was a Russian Communist Party member, World War II veteran, SMERSH agent, and KGB agent who later defected to the United States. He started working for the Central Intelligence Agency, went to graduate school, and wrote several books on the KGB. He died in 1992 at age 71. Proof of death is not required as his death has been widely and extensively reported by the media and is known to your Agency. For instance, it was reported by the New York Times on August 31, 1992. For your convenience: I am specifically interested in materials relating to his defection and immigration to the United States.

Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the ELSUR Records System, 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 for all relevant names, individuals, agencies and companies. If any potentially responsive records have been destroyed and/or transferred to NARA, then I request copies of the destruction or transfer slips as well as any other documentation relating to, mentioning or describing said transfer or destruction, to include but not be limited to confirmation that the Bureau has no other copies of said records (as the Bureau has posted copies of records that it previously said were transferred to NARA such as the Tokyo Rose file).

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. Per DOJ FOIA guidance, "a requester should be granted a fee waiver if the requested information (1) sheds light on the activities and operations of the government; (2) is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of those operations and activities; and (3) is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester." As this FOIA meets all of those requirements (see above), a fee waiver is warranted.

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.


Michael Best

From: U.S. Department of State

A fix is required to perfect the request.

From: Michael Best

Case law merely requires that I describe records sufficiently that someone familiar with the subject matter would be able to identify them and that when records are located someone be able to determine whether or not they are responsive. I have done this, I believe, but I will be a bit more specific: materials (including cables or internal discussions) mentioning Deriabin before his defection, and materials relating to his defection to the United States.

I have not in any way requested non-State Department records, I merely mentioned his employment by CIA.

The time frame is specified above in my clarification.

I am not required to provide proof that the records exist, however it is more than reasonable to believe that State Department cables might mention an individual such as this or that the State Department would be consulted on his defection.

From: U.S. Department of State

A no responsive documents response.

From: Michael Best

I am appealing the State Department's decision that State Department cables and correspondence (per my follow-up clarification) do not constitute State Department records.

From: U.S. Department of State

A no responsive documents response.

From: U.S. Department of State

A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.

From: U.S. Department of State

A copy of documents responsive to the request.