FBI Surveillance Records on Scientology

R. M. Seibert filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.
Tracking #




From: R. M. Seibert

To Whom It May Concern:

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

(1) A copy of the results displayed when a search is performed on the current ELSUR Recordkeeping System (ERS) for listing all the records found where the subject or location of surveillance includes the word "Scientology" and the record is dated from 1995 or earlier. If no search results are returned, I would like to receive a copy of something documenting that outcome instead.

(2) A copy of all manually kept index cards for the previous ELSUR Recordkeeping System, prior to 1991, which were not entered into the automated system (ERS Permanent) where the subject or location of surveillance includes the word “Scientology.” According to a publicly available REQUEST FOR RECORDS DISPOSITION form from 2010, the manually kept ERS index cards I am seeking are supposed to be maintained by the FBI and not transferred to the National Archives for 50 years after court order authorization or 50 years after closure of the related case file, whichever is later. Reference: http://1.usa.gov/1Mi0DdJ

Please note, I am not requesting the actual ELSUR surveillance files related to the items listed above at this time. I am simply seeking a copy of the record summary information that is displayed on the automated ERS search results screen, and/or captured on the manually kept ERS index cards, for the specified criteria.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest due to a recently self-published book by a former Church of Scientology Guardian's Office operative who refers to himself as "Scientology's No. 1 spy." This bold claim dates to the period coinciding with the world's largest infiltration of government agencies in 1970s known as Operation Snow White. Reference: http://bit.ly/1vI0fM7

The book in question, "Arrows in the Dark" by author Merrell Vannier, attempts to breath new life into age-old conspiracy theories disseminated to the media and published independently by the Church of Scientology claiming the organization was the victims of widespread government infiltration, surveillance and overly aggressive investigation (see http://bit.ly/1KHawGh ). As such, the public's understanding of government operations will be greatly served by revealing what, if any, surveillance events actually occurred so that the wild claims Mr. Vannier's book resurrects can be accurately depicted or debunked. Reference: http://www.arrowsinthedark.com

Additionally, 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 is not being made 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 20 business days, as the statute requires.


Ms. R. M. Seibert

From: Sobonya, David P. (RMD) (FBI)

Dear Ms. Seibert,

The FBI has received your Freedom of Information Act/Privacy (FOIPA) request and it will be forwarded to Initial Processing for review. Your request will be processed under the provisions of FOIPA and a response will be mailed to you at a later date.

Requests for fee waivers and expedited processing will be addressed once your request has been assigned an FOIPA request number. You will receive written notification of the FBI’s decision.

Information regarding the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy is available at http://www.fbi.gov<http://www.fbi.gov>/ or http://www.fbi.gov/foia/. If you require additional assistance please contact the Public Information Officer.

Thank you,

David P. Sobonya
Public Information Officer/GIS
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
170 Marcel Drive, Winchester, VA 22602-4843
PIO: (540) 868-4593
Direct: (540) 868-4286
Fax: (540) 868-4391/4997

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

The request has been rejectedby the agency.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

The request has been rejected as being too vague, burdensome or otherwise unprocessable.