DHS S&T border drone feasibility study 2004

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate of the United States of America.
Tracking # 2015-ICFO-66842 ; 2015-HQAP-00066
Status
Rejected

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:

The feasibility report scheduled to be completed by DHS S&T in late 2004 regarding unmanned aerial vehicles.

Per a November 19, 2004 report signed by Border Patrol Commissioner David Aguilar on November 19, 2004, entitled "Preliminary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Feasibility Results for Arizona Border Control Initiative," p. 15:

"A more detailed feasibility study is forthcoming by which will use data captured in the ABCI as well as information provided by industry and manufacturers to identify alternatives for border security missions. We are also awaiting ABCI reports from the UAV manufacturer and from the company to which it subcontracted for pilots and payload operators. These are to be completed and delivered in early December."

A copy of the above Nov 2004 report is available online in full here: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/dhs-oam-pilot-uas-study-2004-6129/

I also request that 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.

I furthermore request a fee waiver on the basis of my status as a journalist who has covered unmanned aerial vehicles extensively. For examples of my work on UAVs, see: motherboard.vice.com/tag/The+Drone+Census

Here is a selection of my published articles on drones, the first of which pertains to CBP's history of drone use, in particular:

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

I have also been published in a handful of other national media outlets:

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

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

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

The present FOIA request concerns a matter of interest to the public, as demonstrated not only by avid readership of my articles and considerable activism around UAV legislation nationwide, but also by congressional hearings and Inspector General reports on the same.

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: STFOIA

Dear Mr. Musgrave,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. Please review the attached letter regarding your request.
Thanks,
FOIA Office
Science and Technology Directorate
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
(o) (202) 254-6342
(f) (202) 254-6739

From: MuckRock

Hello,

Respectfully, my request provides more than adequate information for DHS S&T employees to conduct a reasonable search.

As in my successful appeal of the adequacy of search performed in FOIA 2013F28205 submitted to CBP, in which I requested the findings and final report from the FY2004 pilot study of UAS operations in the US Southwest Border Region by OAM, in the present FOIA 2015-STFO-025 I have cited and quoted from a DHS document that refers to the document requested herein.

I have attached that document in full here — you may also obtain it from CBP as the responsive document to FOIA 2013F28205.

As cited in my original request, on page 15 of that report signed by no less an authority than the Chief of US Border Patrol in November 2004, the following description of the document requested herein:

"A more detailed feasibility study is forthcoming by S&T which will use data captured in the ABCI as well as information provided by industry and manufacturers to identify alternatives for border security missions. We are also awaiting ABCI reports from the UAV manufacturer and from the company to which it subcontracted for pilots and payload operators. These are to be completed and delivered in early December."

In this way, my request not only identified the DHS component — S&T — that was to produce the requested document, but also the circumstances that led to its creation and the timeframe. In this way, I have absolutely met the requirements for a reasonable FOIA request.

Given the above, please confirm whether DHS S&T will proceed with processing my FOIA request, or whether I should submit a formal appeal.

Respectfully,

Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: STFOIA

Dear Musgrave,

Please review the attached letter regarding your Freedom of Information Act request.
Thanks,
FOIA Office
Science and Technology Directorate
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
(o) (202) 254-6342
(f) (202) 254-6739

From: Shawn Musgrave

General Counsel (General Law)
Mailstop 0655
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

To Whom It May Concern:

I hereby appeal my designation as a non-commercial requester for the purpose of fees under FOIA for request 2015-STFO-025.

As outlined in my original request of January 22, I have been published extensively regarding drones.

Here is a selection of my published articles on drones, the first of which pertains to CBP's history of drone use, in particular:

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 including drones and other matters pertaining to national security:

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

In recognition of my extensive publication on drones and other matters pertaining to homeland security, I have been classified as a media requester by other Department of Homeland Security components. I have attached two such acknowledgement letters here, and they can also be found online at the following URLs:

https://muckrock.s3.amazonaws.com/foia_files/2015-HQFO-00168_Acknowledgement_Letter.pdf

https://muckrock.s3.amazonaws.com/foia_files/Ack_-_Conditional_Grant_-_Fee_Waiver_Media.pdf

In light of the above, I respectfully request that you revise my status from non-commercial to media requester.

Thank you.

Best,
Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: STFOIA

Dear Mr. Musgrave,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. Please review the attached letter regarding your request.
Thanks,

FOIA Office
Science and Technology Directorate
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
(o) (202) 254-6342
(f) (202) 254-5396

From: James Holzer


None

From: STFOIA

Dear Mr. Musgrave,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate. Please review the attached letter regarding your request.
Thanks,

FOIA Office
Science and Technology Directorate
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
(o) (202) 254-6342
(f) (202) 254-5396

From: Shawn Musgrave

Associate General Counsel (General Law), Mailstop 0655
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

To Whom It May Concern:

This is an appeal of the adequacy of search and wholesale rejection of FOIA 2015-STFO-025, in which I requested the feasibility report scheduled to be completed by DHS S&T in late 2004 regarding unmanned aerial vehicles.

As cited in my original request, a November 19, 2004 report signed by Border Patrol Commissioner David Aguilar on November 19, 2004, entitled "Preliminary Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Feasibility Results for Arizona Border Control Initiative," indicated on p. 15 that the relevant feasibility study had been conducted regarding UAVs:

"A more detailed feasibility study is forthcoming by which will use data captured in the ABCI as well as information provided by industry and manufacturers to identify alternatives for border security missions. We are also awaiting ABCI reports from the UAV manufacturer and from the company to which it subcontracted for pilots and payload operators. These are to be completed and delivered in early December."

A copy of the above November 2004 report is available online in full here: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/dhs-oam-pilot-uas-study-2004-6129/

Oddly, in its initial response dated February 10, 2015, the Science and Technology Directorate concluded that my request was "too broad in scope or did not specifically identify the records which you are seeking." When I pointed out that the requested document was identified in a DHS memorandum — as well as that I had successfully appealed the adequacy of CBP's search for the very same memo that identified the document at issue in the present request — S&T issued a formal acknowledgement on February 18, 2015. That I had to point out such a fact itself speaks to the unacceptable way in which S&T has gone about processing this request from its submission.

Now, in its final response (attached), S&T concludes that the full 228 pages located pursuant to my second communication must be withheld in their entirety due to FOIA exemptions (b)(4) and (b)(7)(E). It is difficult to understand how more than 200 pages of responsive documents related to a feasibility study paid for by the federal government must be withheld in their entirety. As S&T's response does not elaborate as to the nature of the documents located, it is impossible to determine why the agency was unable to release portions of the responsive documents rather than withhold them in their entirety.

Rather, S&T provided boilerplate rejection language that gave precious little information as to the documents located. It also unclear based on their response letter whether the method by which S&T searched for responsive documents was adequate, particularly given that I submitted a detailed FOIA with an attached memo written by a component of the Department of Homeland Security. I thus appeal the adequacy of S&T's search, as well as the agency's contention that the documents must be withheld in their entirety.

In light of the above, I respectfully ask that you remand this FOIA back to S&T for a good faith search and provision of responsive documents in the spirit of transparency and open government appropriate to a request submitted by a journalist under the FOIA.

Sincerely,

Shawn Musgrave
MuckRock

From: Department of Homeland Security


None

From: Meus, Lauren M CIV

Mr. Musgrave:

Please find attached the FOIA Appeal Decision issued by Judge Devine's office in the above matter. Should you have any questions, please contact his office directly.

Thank you,

Lauren Meus
Hearing Docket Clerk
U.S. Coast Guard

From: Shawn Musgrave

Ms. Meus and Mr. Holzer:

I am writing in response to Mr. Cantrell's letter dated May 28, 2015 (attached) regarding Appeal 2015-HQAP-00048. Mr. Cantrell appears to have misunderstood the nature of our appeal. We recognize that news media requesters are non-commercial requesters, but not all non-commercial requesters are news media requesters. Contrary to Mr. Cantrell's assertion, there is in fact a distinction between a news media requester and an "all other" non-commercial requester, namely, that news media requesters cannot be charged search fees, while "all other" requesters are only entitled to two free hours of search time. S&T appears to have classified MuckRock as an "all other" requester, and it is this classification which we appealed. Please pass this message along to Mr. Cantrell along with our request that he reconsider his determination in light of this clarification.

(In anticipation that the fee category issue is moot because the search has been completed without the assessment of any fees, please note that we appealed the adequacy of S&T's search in Appeal 2015-HQAP-00066. If the Coast Guard grants that appeal, the issue of search fees for any subsequent search may arise, which means that this issue is not yet moot.)

Best,
Shawn Musgrave
Investigative reporter, MuckRock

From: Meus, Lauren M CIV

Mr. Musgrave:

Please find attached a letter regarding your follow up email from May 28, 2015.

Thank you,

Lauren Meus
Hearing Docket Clerk

From: Meus, Lauren M CIV

Mr. Musgrave:

Please find attached the FOIA Appeal Decision issued by Judge McKenna's office in the above matter. Should you have any questions, please contact the Judge's office.

Thank you,

Lauren Meus
Hearing Docket Clerk
U.S. Coast Guard

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