|Submitted||June 3, 2015|
To Whom It May Concern:
This is a request for records under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act (collectively, “FOIA/PA”), 5 U.S.C. §§ 552, 552a. For purposes of this request, the definition of “records” includes, but is not limited to, documents, letters, faxes, memoranda, notes, case files, reports, e-mail messages (including e-mails to and from personal e-mail accounts), other correspondence, orders, policy statements, data, technical evaluations or analysis, and studies. The definition of “records” expressly refers to materials already in existence, whether in physical or electronic form, and does not imply any need for SIGAR to create new records.
Request for Disclosure
I seek disclosure of any and all processing notes, case files, records, or communications created from March 17, 2015 to present regarding FOIA request #2015-5-0017. This request was filed by Evan Anderson on March 17, 2015 and received by your office on March 18, 2015. You office closed the request on May 1, 2015.
Mr. Anderson posted his full FOIA request and all his related correspondence publicly online at https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/sigar-documents-on-opium-production-in-afghanistan-16735. As a result, my request does not violate Mr. Anderson's privacy rights under the Privacy Act.
Request for Limitation of Processing Fees
I request a limitation of processing fees pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II) (“fees shall be limited to reasonable standard charges for document duplication when records are not sought for commercial use and the request is made by ... a representative of the news media”).
MuckRock meets the definition of a “representative of the news media” because they are “an entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.” See National Security Archive v. Department of Defense, 880 F.2d 1381, 1387 (D.C. Cir. 1989).
Additionally, I am a full-time, professional journalist. I regularly report on issues that include national security and human rights for outlets that include the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, Al Jazeera America, Salon, The Huffington Post, and GlobalPost. In addition, I am a digital producer at the New England Center for Investigative Reporting and the former editor-in-chief of Spare Change News, both located in Boston, Massachusetts. A complete list of my publications and my full résumé are available online at https://joshuaeaton.net.
This request is made as part of the newsgathering process and not for commercial purposes. As such, I am entitled to a limitation of processing fees.
In the event that processing fees cannot be limited, please inform me of the anticipated total charges in advance of fulfilling my request.
Request for Fee Waiver
I additionally request a waiver of all costs pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii) (“Documents shall be furnished without any charge ... if disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester”). This request is made as part of the newsgathering process and not for commercial purposes. As such, I am entitled to a fee waiver.
Disclosure in this case meets the statutory criteria, and a fee waiver would fulfill Congress’s legislative intent in amending FOIA. See Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Rossotti, 326 F.3d 1309, 1312 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (“Congress amended FOIA to ensure that it be ‘liberally construed in favor of waivers for noncommercial requesters.’”).
Disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest. This request will further public understanding of government conduct; specifically, SIGAR's responsiveness to requests for records from the general public and its responsiveness to such requests. This type of government activity concretely affects many individuals and groups and implicates basic democratic principles of transparency and accountability that are central to FOIA.
As a “representative of the news media,” I am well-situated to disseminate the information I gain from this request to the general public. Because I meet the test for a fee waiver, fees associated with responding to my FOIA/PA requests should be – and regularly are – waived.
The records requested are not sought for commercial use. I plan to disseminate the information disclosed as a result of this FOIA/PA request through the channels described above.
In the event that fees cannot be waived, please inform me of the anticipated total charges in advance of fulfilling my request.
Pursuant to applicable regulations and statute, I expect the determination of this request for documents within 20 days of your receipt of this request. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i).
If this request is denied, in whole or in part, please justify all deletions by reference to specific exemptions to FOIA/PA. SIGAR must also release all segregable portions of otherwise exempt material. I reserve the right to appeal any decision to withhold any information in whole or in part, to deny the request to limit processing fees, or to deny the request for a fee waiver.
I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Mr. Joshua Eaton,
This is the final response regarding your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
request with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction
(SIGAR). I have attached to this email our response letter and responsive
FOIA Office Assistant
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR)