FOIA Request re Mortuary Affairs Records from Guantanamo

Jeffrey Kaye filed this request with the Guantanamo Naval Hospital of the United States of America.
Tracking # SC-14-008
Due Nov. 21, 2013
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Jeffrey Kaye

To Whom It May Concern:

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

I seek all documents from September 11, 2001 and February 19, 2002 related to activities by Mortuary Affairs department at Guantanamo, inclusive of Joint Task Force 160 and 170, or any other department at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base which handles mortuary affairs. Such documents would include, as an example, all reports, memoranda, emails, faxes, or other electronic or handwritten material, and also any magnetic material, such as videotape or audio recordings, pertinent to this request. If any is considered non-releasable, I ask that what is not classified or declassified be segregated such that it can be released.

I note that according to the minutes of the February 19, 2002 meeting of the Armed Forces Epidemiological Board (AFEB), a Navy Captain Alan Yund described activities of "mortuary affairs" at Guantanamo during this period. For reference, see http://www.health.mil/dhb/afeb/meeting/Transcripts/Day1Transcripts.pdf. Hence, there is documentary evidence of activities by "mortuary affairs" at Guantanamo during this period.

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 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Kaye

From: SOUTHCOM - US Southern Command

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

The purpose of this note is to inform you that the office that is working your case is still compiling information. Our office anticipates a response by the end of next week.

Thank you for your patience.

r/
Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
(305) 437-1108

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

Please, the office working your case is asking clarification related to the scope of your request.

Are asking for information from September 11, 2001 TO February 19, 2001 or just for those two days?

v/r
Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
(305) 437-1108

From: Jeffrey Kaye

Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager

Dear Marco,

Thanks for requesting clarification. I am asking for information FROM September 11, 2001 TO February 19, 2002. I am NOT asking for information on those two days only, but for all dates inclusive of the two dates above.

Regards,
Jeff Kaye

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

Thank you for your prompt response. We will get back to you soonest.

r/
Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
(305) 437-1108

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

Did you receive our written response?

r/
Marco T. Villalobos
(305) 437-1108

From: MuckRock

Hello,

The most recent written response for this request was the attached from November.

Thank you.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

I am still pending the final response from one of the tasked offices. We will be preparing the final response immediately after this office respond.

I see that you received our written interim response.

Thank you for your patience.

r/
Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
(305) 437-1108

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Key,

This case is pending DoD and OSD OGC final review.

r/
Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
(305) 437-1108

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

Your FOIA is currently at DoD and OSD OGC for review prior to our final response.

Thank for contacting us.

r/
Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
(305) 437-1108

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION: UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

This case is still pending review response from other agencies.

r/

Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
(305) 437-1108

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-008.

Thank you for your help.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

Dr. Kaye,

This case is still pending response from other agencies. I will contact them for an status report and get back with you soonest.

Thank you for your patience.

r/

Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
United States Southern Command
9301 NW 33rd | Doral, FL 33172
Office: 305-437-1108
DSN: 567-1108
Fax: 305-437-1320
NIPR: marco.t.villalobos.civ@mail.mil
SIPR: marco.t.villalobos.civ@mail.smil.mil
JWICS: marco.villalobos@dodiis.ic.gov

From: Jeffrey Kaye

Feb. 25, 2015

Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
United States Southern Command
9301 NW 33rd | Doral, FL 33172

Re: FOIA reference number #SC 14-008

Dear Mr. Villalobos,

I have been very patient waiting on this FOIA. I am formally asking for an estimated date of completion for this FOIA, as is my statutory right. It is my intention, failing to receive a date of estimated completion, to take this particular case to the FOIA ombudsman at the Office of Government Information Services, who handles complaints on FOIA processing matters.

I do appreciate your efforts, but do wish to have that date of completion, or explanation of why that cannot be given.

Sincerely,
Jeff Kaye, Ph.D.
Muckrock News

From: SOUTHCOM - US Southern Command

The request has been forwarded from one agency to another agency or department for further review or follow up.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION: UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

The final response to this case was placed on the mail yesterday.

r/

Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
United States Southern Command
9301 NW 33rd | Doral, FL 33172
Office: 305-437-1108
DSN: 567-1108
Fax: 305-437-1320
NIPR: marco.t.villalobos.civ@mail.mil
SIPR: marco.t.villalobos.civ@mail.smil.mil
JWICS: marco.villalobos@dodiis.ic.gov

From: MuckRock

To Whom It May Concern:

This FOIA request have been forwarded to your office for processing. Confirmation of receipt and an estimated date of completion would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-008-S.

Thank you for your help.

From: U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery

The request has been forwarded from one agency to another agency or department for further review or follow up.

From: Jeffrey Kaye

For e-mail to Steven H. Vanderwerff at Bureau of Medicine and Surgery: steven.h.vanderwerff.civ@mail.mil

Dear Mr. Vanderwerff,

I am following up per our phone discussion on April 22 regarding a FOIA request to SOUTHCOM that reportedly was transferred to the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED).

The original request, submitted by myself via the news agency Muckrock.com, was sent to SOUTHCOM on October 23, 2013. The request asked for "all documents from September 11, 2001 and February 19, 2002 related to activities by Mortuary Affairs department at Guantanamo, inclusive of Joint Task Force 160 and 170, or any other department at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base which handles mortuary affairs. Such documents would include, as an example, all reports, memoranda, emails, faxes, or other electronic or handwritten material, and also any magnetic material, such as videotape or audio recordings, pertinent to this request."

The FOIA request was given the case control number SC-14-008-S by SOUTHCOM's FOIA office.

On February 25, 2015, Mr. Marco Villalobos, the Command FOIA Manager at SOUTHCOM, wrote to me at Muckrock, explaining that Southern Command "is not the repository Agency of the records you seek. The repository Agency for these records is under the purview of the Navy Bureau of Medicine.... Accordingly, your request has been referred to this Agency for their processing and
direct reply to you." (Mr. Villalobos states his contact number is (305) 437-1108.)

To date, I have received no reply or any other indication from BUMED that the FOIA request was received by them, and I am grateful for your offer to follow-up on this matter and determine what has happened to that request and who has been put in charge of this request at this point.

I do not know if this is under your purview, but if you can communicate my wish that this matter be handled in an expedited manner, it would be appreciated. It took 16 months for SOUTHCOM to determine they were not the holder of the requested records. While that is not the fault of BUMED or its personnel, BUMED is part of the government, and as a matter of courtesy to the public and the news media, I ask that due to the previous delay, the FOIA request I made in regards to the Mortuary Affairs record, be so expedited.

Many thanks for your attention to this.

Sincerely,
Jeffrey Kaye
MuckRock.com

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-008-S.

Thank you for your help.

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-008-S.

Thank you for your help.

From: Richard Laxa

Dr. Kaye,

I received your request on or about the 20th of May. We looked at your
request and now just waiting on the Formal Release Letter to be reviewed by
the Commanding Officer prior to release. I can tell that in your request for
Joint Task Force information we could not disclose that information. I
reached out to the Joint Task Force Lawyers and they asked that you resubmit
that through Mr. Villalobos, where I saw you had originally submitted in 2013.
As soon as Full Release Memo is signed I will mail to at the address provided.

r/Senior Chief Laxa

HMCS(SW/AW) Richard Laxa
Senior Enlisted Leader
Directorate For Medical Services
Command Legal Officer
Command Fitness Leader
USNH Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
FPO AE 09589-0002
Office: (011-5399) 72378
DSN: 660-2998/ Opt. 1/ Ext. 2378
Comm: (011-5399) 72378
Cell: 84355/ (011-5399) 84355
Email: Richard.laxa@med.navy.mil

From: Jeffrey Kaye

Dear Mr. Londono,

I am writing to you as I am told you are Marco Villalobos's superior. Today, I left him a phone message, as my attempt to email him with the email address I had on file was kicked back as undeliverable. The phone message to him concerned the matters I write of below.

I have two outstanding FOIAs I am writing about.

1) SC 13-056 is a FOIA for the AR 15-6 investigation files and report concerning the deaths of two Guantanamo detainees, Muhammad Ahmad Abdullah Salih al-Hanashi (ISN: US9YM-000078DP), who died at Guantanamo on June 1, 2009; and Jabd Al Rahman Maath Thafir Umari (ISN: US9SA-000199DP), who died at Guantanamo on May 30, 2007.

This request was made on January 23, 2013 and is now over 2-1/2 years old. I ask, as is my statutory right for a date of completion of this request. Asking for such a date of completion does not impinge on my right to take this matter to other authorities, or to court. I would also like an explanation of why it is taking so long to release this information, as I know that Southcom has released information on other matters filed subsequently, as in the case of the AR 15-6 investigation into the death of Adnan Latif.

2) The other matter concerns my FOIA request SC 14-008. This request was initially filed on Sept. 23, 2013, and concerned "all documents from September 11, 2001 and February 19, 2002 related to activities by Mortuary Affairs department at Guantanamo, inclusive of Joint Task Force 160 and 170, or any other department at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base which handles mortuary affairs."

After being told in writing by Mr. Villalobos on June 11, 2014 that my FOIA was "at DoD and OSD OGC for review prior to our final response," on February 25, 2014, I learned from a letter from Mr. Villalobos that the records I sought were "not the repository Agency of the records you seek. The repository Agency for these records is under the purview of the Navy Bureau of Medicine [BUMED]."

Subsequently, BUMED told me by letter that it was not the repository of such records, and referred the case to the FOIA office of the Naval Hospital at Guantanamo. I have recently heard from them that the proper place to ask for such records is... Southcom!

In other words, Mr. Londono, I am getting the run-around on this. Meanwhile, my other FOIA, in #1 above, is being seemingly ignored and stonewalled.

I ask for you action on this. I can be reached by email or phone. If you call me, please note that in my job I am often not able to pick up the phone. Feel free to leave a confidential voicemail. Finally, I ask that you send me an updated email address for Mr. Villalobos.

Both of my FOIAs above are very important to me, and I believe would constitute vital information for the public. I ask that at this point prompt action be taken to respond to my requests. At the very least, I ask, as is my statutory right, for dates of completion for these requests.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Kaye, Ph.D.

From: SOUTHCOM

CLASSIFICATION: UNCLASSIFIED

Dear Dr. Kaye -- Thank you for reaching out to me, and feel free to continue to do so in the future.

Here's an update on the FOIA requests you've inquired about:

1. SC 14-008

-- We re-tasked JTF-GTMO to conduct a search. They owe us their response on 2 July (this Thursday). If not mistaken, this time around they located responsive records.

-- Once we receive their response, we'll review it and submit it to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for final review.

-- I don't know how long it will take for us (and OSD) to review and process your FOIA request -- it will depend on the number of responsive pages, as well as the complexity of the information. I'll update you next week with an estimated date of completion.

2. 13-056

-- The two 15-6s investigations associated with this FOIA are still being worked.

-- Realistically, I think we can complete our review and have it to OSD by the end of October.

Note on timelines: I recognize how unreasonable this email sounds, especially the estimated time it will take to process the two 15-6s. However, I can assure you that we will try our best to have these two investigations processed before the end October.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I've also copied Mr. Villalobos to this email.

Sincerely,

Sam

From: Jeffrey Kay

Dear Sam,

Thanks for your prompt response. It's very much appreciated. Thanks also for the proper email address for Marco Villalobos.

I look forward to hearing about the date of projected completion for SC 14-008.

As for SC 13-056, I am dismayed that the estimated completion date is as late as October, but it is good to have something in hand. Along those lines, I wonder if it is possible, as with the Southcom releases on Adnan Latif, if as portions of that FOIA are completed they can be released earlier, in sections, so to speak. For instance, if the AR-15-6 on Mr. Hanashi were completed before that of Mr. Al Amri (or vice versa), if that could be released, rather than wait on completion re clearance of both reports? The same is true for any significant portion of each report. That would be very helpful, and I think not inconsistent with agency practice.

Thanks again very much.

Sincerely, Jeff

From: SOUTHCOM

Dear Dr. Kaye -- I'll propose your suggestion that we release the 15-6 in portions to OSD.

I'll update you next week on SC 14-008 and should be able to update you on 13-056 by the end of July.

I appreciate your patience. Thank you.

Sincerely, Sam

From: Jeffrey Kaye

Dear Sam,

Thanks very much for your continuing attention to these matters. As regards SC 14-008, I previously had supplied a link in my correspondence with FOIA offices that referenced the fact Guantanamo had experienced deaths in the very early days it started receiving detainees in the "war on terror." That link, which went to a document from the Armed Forced Epidemiological Board from Feb. 19, 2002, previously posted online, is now dead. But I am attaching a copy of that document, as it may be pertinent in searching for the related documents which are the matter of my FOIA request. The pertinent information is on page 108 of that document.

If you could pass this along to those who are or will be working on this FOIA request (SC 14-008), I would appreciate it.

Thanks again for all you attention to this.

Sincerely,
Jeff

Jeffrey Kaye, Ph.D.

From: Jeffrey Kaye

Dear Dr. Kaye -- I will forward the document you've provided to the POC at JTF-GTMO.

Sincerely,

Sam

From: Jeffrey Kaye

Dear Dr. Kaye -- We've received GTMO's response and re-tasked it within our HQs based on some of the information found at GTMO. I say this because it will take another couple of weeks before we review and send it to OSD.

We'll keep you posted.

Sincerely, Sam

From: MuckRock.com

To Whom It May Concern:

I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on Oct. 23, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #14-008-S.

Thank you for your help.

From: LAXA, Richard S. - SCPO GTMO

A reply was sent to Dr. Jeffrey Kaye on the 1st of July with email copy and
certified mail was sent that week to the address provided.

r/Senior Chief Laxa

HMCS(SW/AW) Richard Laxa
SEL Directorate For Medical Services
Command Legal Officer
Command Fitness Leader
USNH Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
FPO AE 09589-0002
Office: (011-5399) 72378
DSN: 660-2998/ Opt. 1/ Ext. 2378
Comm: (011-5399) 72378
Cell: 84355/ (011-5399) 84355
Email: Richard.laxa@med.navy.mil

From: Jeffrey Kaye

HMCS(SW/AW) Richard Laxa
SEL Directorate For Medical Services
Command Legal Officer
Command Fitness Leader
USNH Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
FPO AE 09589-0002
Office: (011-5399) 72378
DSN: 660-2998/ Opt. 1/ Ext. 2378
Comm: (011-5399) 72378
Cell: 84355/ (011-5399) 84355
Email: Richard.laxa@med.navy.mil

Dear Mr. Laxa,

I will notify Muckrock of more up-to-date developments so you do not keep getting these messages.

Thanks, Jeff Kaye

From: Jeffrey Kaye

HMCS(SW/AW) Richard Laxa
SEL Directorate For Medical Services
Command Legal Officer
Command Fitness Leader
USNH Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
FPO AE 09589-0002
Office: (011-5399) 72378
DSN: 660-2998/ Opt. 1/ Ext. 2378
Comm: (011-5399) 72378
Cell: 84355/ (011-5399) 84355
Email: Richard.laxa@med.navy.mil

Dear Mr. Laxa,

Due to an error on my own part, I have misplaced the contents of what was sent to me for my FOIA #14-008-S. That FOIA concerned "documents from September 11, 2001 and February 19, 2002 related to activities by Mortuary Affairs department at Guantanamo, inclusive of Joint Task Force 160 and 170, or any other department at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base which handles mortuary affairs." If you could resend your response and any accompanying materials, it would be much appreciated. I prefer you send it to Muckrock News, or alternately, please resend to the address you had previously for me. I am willing to pay any copying or mailing fees for this.

Thanks, Jeff Kaye

From: Londono, Samuel CIV SOUTHCOM (US)

Dr. Kaye,

I have added Mr. Villalobos to this email address. He will respond.

I hope this note finds you well.

Sincerely, Sam

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION: UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

Good morning! The intent of this note is to inform you that SOUTHCOM response to your FOIA case SC 14-008-S is still pending final review from an outside agency. Expect a final response within the next two months; however, if possible we'll provide you with our final response earlier. Further, our agency is not aware of any documents produced to you by Mr. Laxa's office.

Thank you for your patience.

r/

Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
United States Southern Command
9301 NW 33rd | Doral, FL 33172
Office: 305-437-1108 < tel:305-437-1108 >
DSN: 567-1108
Fax: 305-437-1320 < tel:305-437-1320 >
NIPR: marco.t.villalobos.civ@mail.mil < Caution-mailto:marco.t.villalobos.civ@mail.mil >
SIPR: marco.t.villalobos.civ@mail.smil.mil < Caution-mailto:marco.t.villalobos.civ@mail.smil.mil >
JWICS: marco.villalobos@dodiis.ic.gov < Caution-mailto:marco.villalobos@dodiis.ic.gov

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