End user database documentation for PISAP analysts

Jason Smathers filed this request with the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America.
Status
Rejected

Communications

From: Jason Smathers

Information and Privacy Coordinator
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505
fax: (703) 613-3007

To Whom It May Concern:

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

All documentation available to analysts working with the CIA's Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program (PISAP) which describes the use of any database system used by PISAP analysts.

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.

Sincerely,

Jason Smathers
Filed via MuckRock.com
185 Beacon St. #3
Somerville, MA 02143

Daytime: (857) 488- 3081
E-mail: requests@muckrock.com

From: Central Intelligence Agency

See attached document, Smathers CIA.jpg

From: Central Intelligence Agency

From: Jason Smathers

Re: F-2011-00104

In a denial letter signed by Scott Koch and dated 5 November 2010, you state "our record systems are not configured in a way that would allow us to perform a search reasonably calculated to lead to responsive records without unreasonable effort." I hereby appeal.

The FOIA does not permit such a denial. I requested "All documentation available to any analyst working with the CIA's Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program (PISAP) which describes the use of any database system used by PISAP analysts."

I have defined the records sought with reasonable specificity. The CIA's record keeping system is of no consequence to this request. As an outsider, I would suspect the best place to start a search is by asking a PISAP analyst for the responsive records.

Please conduct a search for the requested records.

From: Jason Smathers

Reference: F-2011-00104

Scott Koch sent a letter dated 11/5/2010 concerning this FOIA request stating that your "record systems are not configured in a way that would allow us to perform a search reasonably calculated to lead to responsive records without an unreasonable effort." I appeal.

I requested end user documentation for database systems used by PISAP analysts. These are functioning records which are accessible without regard to the configuration of the CIA record systems. A consultation with the IT staff responsible for PISAP databases should assist in locating these records. Furthermore, simply asking a PISAP analyst would likely result in direction to the requested documents. These are suggestions made from common sense without any knowledge of CIA record keeping. I believe any reasonable person would agree that such steps would be reasonably calculated to lead to responsive records without an unreasonable effort.

Please conduct a search for the requested records

From: Central Intelligence Agency

From: Jason Smathers

Office of Government Information Services
National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road, Room 2510
College Park, MD 20740
ogis@nara.gov

December 31, 2010

Dear OGIS,

I am contacting you for assistance with a recent request I made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the CIA which was assigned FOIA log number F-2011-00104.

On September 27, 2010 I submitted a FOIA request to the CIA for "All documentation available to analysts working with the CIA's Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program (PISAP) which describes the use of any database system used by PISAP analysts."

In a letter dated November 5, 2010, Scott Koch denied my request because "[their] recpord systems are not configured in a way that would allow [them] to perform a search..."

I appealed this denial on December 1, 2010 explaining that "I have defined the records sought with reasonable specificity. The CIA's record keeping system is of no consequence to this request. As an outsider, I would suspect the best place to start a search is by asking a PISAP analyst for the responsive records."

In a letter dated December 16, 2010 from Susan Viscuso of the CIA, I was informed that the CIA will not process my appeal, as they believe I do not have appeal rights according to their agency regulations.

I understand that your office provides mediation services for FOIA requests such as mine. I look forward to hearing from your office about how this disagreement can be mediated. I can be contacted at the e-mail address below.

In accordance with the Privacy Act of 1974 as amended, I hereby authorize the Office of Government Information Services to make inquiries on my behalf, including the right to review all documentation that OGIS deems necessary in connection with my request for assistance regarding the Freedom of Information Act and/or Privacy Act request/administrative appeal that I have referenced above. I understand that any documents I provide to OGIS may be copied and forwarded to officials of the referenced agency as a part of the mediation/resolution process. I also authorize any Federal department, agency or component to release to OGIS information and records related to my Freedom of Information Act and/or Privacy Act request/administrative
appeal. Electronic signature follows.

Signed,
/Jason Smathers/
Jason Smathers
Filed via MuckRock.com
185 Beacon St. #3
Somerville, MA 02143

Daytime: (857) 488- 3081
E-mail: requests@muckrock.com

From: OGIS

Jason,

Thanks again for your time on the phone this afternoon to discuss the seven different requests you brought to us related to the CIA and the related dispute over appeal rights.

As we discussed, the appeal rights issue is one that OGIS plans to discuss with the agency going forward. We anticipate it to be a longer process and something we will spend time on in relation to other bigger issues that have come up with the agency.

For now, though, we can try to provide some assistance with the specific requests and your attempts to receive the information you are seeking. I know we walked through each of the seven requests on the phone, but I am going to include a brief synopsis of what I learned from the CIA so you can refer to it here.

A few requests referred to the ARCINS database. No. F-2011-00274 pertained to “Sharia” information. Nos. F-2011-00214 and 00336 pertained to “New World Translation” information. No. 2011-00215 pertained to “International Mission Board” information. For each of these, the CIA explained that the information that was once part of the ARCINS database has migrated to other places but does not contain any tag or other denotation that it was once part of ARCINS – there is no way to search for former ARCINS data. The CIA suggested removing the ARCINS limitation and just asking for the specific information but so as to avoid overbroad requests, to specify for each what exactly you are looking for, such as a region, topic or time period. For the IMB, you should state who runs it or which one you are referring to. You will need to give more context for each of these.

A few other requests referred to the CIA’s intranet site PISAP. No. F-2011-00339 asked for a copy of the pageview of the PISAP web site and copies of every page visited within two clicks of that. The CIA said that resulted in thousands and thousands of pages and was too burdensome. They suggested that you specify the subject of the pages you would like. No. F-2011-00092 asked for an index, catalog or log of organizations; the CIA cannot search for indices or databases but suggested asking for reports/documents on the topic and/or region at issue and to specify the time period for the organizations you're seeking information about. No. F-2011-00104 requested documents that describe the use of databases used by analysts. The CIA said if they knew what you were looking for, they might suggest a way to word it; they tried a bunch of searches and nothing came up. You gave me more information on this which I will provide to the CIA and get back to you on.

Finally, No. F-2011-00274 asked for a copy of the “Holy Fighter book” which the agency said it does not have. It said the Army would have this and that it provided you with the information on where to request this from the Army.

As we discussed, I will get back to you on the CIA's suggested wording for the information you sought in request No. F-2011-00104; OGIS will continue working on the broader appeal issue with the CIA; and OGIS will close this case. If you find that you run into any problems making your re-requests for any of this information, you can always get back in touch with me and we'll reopen the matter and try to help out then.

Thanks for your patience as it took awhile to work through all of this. I will be in touch to follow up on the remaining issue as soon as I have more.

Corinna

--------------------------------
Corinna Zarek
Attorney Advisor
Office of Government
Information Services
8601 Adelphi Rd., Rm. 2510
College Park, MD 20740
Dir: 301.837.3788
Main: 301.837.1996
Fax: 301.837.0348

www.archives.gov/ogis

From: Jason Smathers

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 6, 2010. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Central Intelligence Agency

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