Iran-Contra (FBI)

Emma Best filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.
Tracking # 1347934-000
Due Oct. 18, 2016
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

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

All records relating to, mentioning or describing the Iran–Contra affair, also referred to as Irangate, Contragate, and the Iran–Contra scandal as well as investigations relating to it and materials provided to the President's Special Review Board ("Tower Commission"), the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran and the
Senate Select Committee On Secret Military Assistance to Iran And the Nicaraguan Opposition (jointly known as the Congressional committees investigating the Iran–Contra affair).

I request that all fees be waived. The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes. The files will be made freely available through MuckRock and the non-profit Internet Archive, and used for news and analysis purposes. The release of the files will contribute to the public's understanding of governmental operations, specifically governmental investigations of wrongdoing on the part of military and civilian government officials (both active and retired from government service).

In the event that there are fees, 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,

Michael Best

From: Early, Holly H. (RMD) (FBI)

Dear Mr. Best,

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/<http://www.fbi.goiv/foia/>. If you require additional assistance please contact the Public Information Officer.

Thank you,

Holly Early
Public Liaison/GIS
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
170 Marcel Drive, Winchester, VA 22602-4843
PIO: (540) 868-4593
Direct: (540) 868-4854
Fax: (540) 868-4391/4997
E-mail: foiparequest@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foiparequest@ic.fbi.gov>
Questions E-mail: foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov>

Do you have further questions about the FOI/PA process? Visit us at http://www.fbi.gov/foia

Please check the status of your request online at http://www.fbi.gov/foia by clicking on the CHECK STATUS OF YOUR FOI/PA REQUEST under the FOIA INDEX located on the right side of the page. Status updates are performed on a weekly basis.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

An interim response, stating the request is being processed.

From: FOIPAQUESTIONS

Dear Mr. Best,

Please check the status of your FOIPA Request at http://www.fbi.gov and access the (Freedom of Information Act) link at the bottom of the page, or http://www.fbi.gov/foia, or https://vault.fbi.gov/fdps-1/@@search-fdps, and follow the instructions below.

Check the Status of Your FOIPA Request

If your FOIPA Number is [1195846-0] please enter [1195846-000] into the system. If your FOIPA Number is [1195846-1] please enter [1195846-001] into the system. If you have any questions about the status of your FOIPA request, please e-mail foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov>.

FIND STATUS OF FOIPA- LAST UPDATED ON May 11, 2016

Please enter the whole FOIPA number-Example: [1234567-000]

FOIPA:

Results will show the Request Number, Case Type and Process Description shown below:

FOIPA:

1234567-000

Case Type:

FOIPA

Process Description (Will display the current progress of the request)

The FBI’s FOIPA Program is searching the FBI’s indices for potentially responsive documents.

You may be contacted via formal letter for all fees and/or negotiation issues that may apply.
NOTE: Recent requests are entered into the FOIPA database in the order that they are received. Before you can check the status, you must have received correspondence assigning a FOIPA request number and the information transferred to the online database. Status information is updated weekly. If a request has been closed within the last six months the online database will display the following: The FOIPA number entered has been closed, and appropriate correspondence has been sent to the address on file.

Thank you,

Holly Early
Public Liaison/GIS
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
170 Marcel Drive, Winchester, VA 22602-4843
PIO: (540) 868-4593
Direct: (540) 868-4854
Fax: (540) 868-4391/4997
E-mail: foiparequest@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foiparequest@ic.fbi.gov>
Questions E-mail: foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov>

Do you have further questions about the FOI/PA process? Visit us at http://www.fbi.gov/foia

Please check the status of your request online at http://www.fbi.gov/foia by clicking on the CHECK STATUS OF YOUR FOI/PA REQUEST under the FOIA INDEX located on the right side of the page. Status updates are performed on a weekly basis.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A letter stating the requester must agree to or prepay assessed or estimated fees in order for the agency to continue processing the request.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Michael Best

I am renewing my request that all duplication fees be waived and the files posted to the FBI website, as this subject meets the criteria set forth by both FOIA and the Bureau.

My initial fee waiver request does not appear to have been responded to, however I will provide additional information to help you correctly decide to waive duplication fees. I also request that processing be expedited due to the extremely high importance of this case, which is outlined below in quotes from governmental reports and President Reagan himself.

My ability to digest and disseminate the information is well established. The files will, in addition to (hopefully) the FBI website, be made available through MuckRock and the Internet Archive - both of which are non-profit organizations with considerable reach. I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the Bureau for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established.

The 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. This specifically includes both the investigations themselves and the activities associated with Iran-Contra affair. This information is significant and goes to the public's faith in the government's integrity and ability to investigate itself, including the suppression of evidence.

Additional evidence to be considered:

President Ronald Reagan himself said that it was important for the information to be made available, saying that “‘The [Tower] board is convinced that the President does indeed want the full story to be told.’ And that will continue to my pledge to you as the [Iran-Contra] other investigation go forward.”

President Reagan also commented that the lack of information relating to this case negatively impacted the public's faith in him and the government. “I paid a price for my silence [about Iran-Contra and the investigations] in terms of your trust and confidence.”

It's notable that neither President Reagan nor any President (or Attorney General or FBI Director) since has expressed a position contrary to this, making it the de facto stance of the Executive Branch of the United States Government, including the Department of Justice and the FBI.

Several government reports, such as the Walsh Report, documented the impact of this case on the most senior levels of government and the public's faith in it, as well as the importance of the case and the necessity for transparency:

“The operational aspects of Iran/contra were carried out by the national security adviser to the President and the National Security Council staff, who were aided by private operatives they recruited. “

“The criminal investigation established that President Reagan, with the support of Vice President Bush, promulgated the two policies that drove Iran/contra:

-- that the contras would be kept viable as an insurgent force during the Boland cut-off period from October 1984 to October 1986, and

-- that arms would be sold to Iran, first from Israeli stocks and later directly from the United States, in exchange for the release of Americans held hostage in the Middle East.

The investigation also established that the President, Vice President and Regan were briefed regularly and in considerable detail as to the operations being conducted to carry out those policies. “

“The OIC found considerable evidence that the President and the Vice President knew about and, in some instances, directly participated in contra-funding efforts during this period -- including third-country donations, quid-pro-quo arrangements to encourage third-country support, and contributions from private citizens. In addition, there was evidence that Bush's aides Gregg and Watson had information on North's direction of the contra-resupply effort through Gregg's close relationship with Felix Rodriguez, a former CIA operative whom North enlisted as a part of his contra-supply organization. Gregg claimed that, notwithstanding the Administration's interest in the success of the contras, he never mentioned any information regarding contra resupply to Vice President Bush, the person he was advising on national security matters.”

“[The] Independent Counsel concluded that President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Regan, Meese and other senior Administration officials in November 1986 undertook to ``rearrange the record,'' as Secretary of State George P. Shultz put it in a conversation with his senior advisers, in an effort to protect the President and themselves from accusations of possible violations of law. A particular concern was that the 1985 Iran arms sales from Israeli stocks violated the congressional notification requirement of the Arms Export Control Act. Evidence to support this conclusion was obtained by Independent Counsel in 1991 and 1992 from notes, diaries and documents previously withheld from the Tower Commission, the congressional Select Committees and the OIC. The withheld evidence demonstrated that:

-- President Reagan authorized the 1985 sale of TOW and HAWK missiles from Israeli stocks in an effort to free Americans held hostage even though he was warned such sales were in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

-- The President's senior national security advisers -- Vice President Bush, Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, CIA Director William J. Casey, and Regan -- were informed in 1985 of presidential approval of the transactions.”

“The underlying facts of Iran/contra are that, regardless of criminality, President Reagan, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the director of central intelligence and their necessary assistants committed themselves, however reluctantly, to two programs contrary to congressional policy and contrary to national policy. They skirted the law, some of them broke the law, and almost all of them tried to cover up the President's willful activities.

What protection do the people of the United States have against such a concerted action by such powerful officers? The Constitution provides for congressional oversight and congressional control of appropriations, but if false information is given to Congress, these checks and balances are of lessened value. Further, in the give and take of the political community, congressional oversight is often overtaken and subordinated by the need to keep Government functioning, by the need to anticipate the future, and by the ever-present requirement of maintaining consensus among the elected officials who are the Government.”

“Fundamentally, the Iran/contra affair was the first known criminal assault on the post-Watergate rules governing the activities of national security officials. Reagan Administration officials rendered these rules ineffective by creating private operations, supported with privately generated funds that successfully evaded executive and legislative oversight and control. Congress was defrauded. Its appropriations restrictions having been circumvented, Congress was led to believe that the Administration was following the law. Numerous congressional inquiries were thwarted through false testimony and the destruction and concealment of government records.

The destruction and concealment of records and information, beginning at the twilight of Iran/contra and continuing throughout subsequent investigations, should be of particular concern."

“The Iran/contra investigation will not end the kind of abuse of power that it addressed any more than the Watergate investigation did. The criminality in both affairs did not arise primarily out of ordinary venality or greed, although some of those charged were driven by both. Instead, the crimes committed in Iran/contra were motivated by the desire of persons in high office to pursue controversial policies and goals even when the pursuit of those policies and goals was inhibited or restricted by executive orders, statutes or the constitutional system of checks and balances.

The tone in Iran/contra was set by President Reagan. He directed that the contras be supported, despite a ban on contra aid imposed on him by Congress. And he was willing to trade arms to Iran for the release of Americans held hostage in the Middle East, even if doing so was contrary to the nation's stated policy and possibly in violation of the law.

The lesson of Iran/contra is that if our system of government is to function properly, the branches of government must deal with one another honestly and cooperatively. “

I look forward to your prompt response to my request for the waiving of duplication fees.

From: Michael Best

I am appealing the FBI's constructive denial of my fee waiver request. When I attempted to follow up with the Bureau, they didn't respond or acknowledge the communication within their usual timeframe. This leads me to conclude that they likely have no intention of responding to the fee waiver request at all, which is now exactly seven months old.

From my follow-up communication:

I am renewing my request that all duplication fees be waived and the files posted to the FBI website, as this subject meets the criteria set forth by both FOIA and the Bureau.

My initial fee waiver request does not appear to have been responded to, however I will provide additional information to help you correctly decide to waive duplication fees. I also request that processing be expedited due to the extremely high importance of this case, which is outlined below in quotes from governmental reports and President Reagan himself.

My ability to digest and disseminate the information is well established. The files will, in addition to (hopefully) the FBI website, be made available through MuckRock and the Internet Archive - both of which are non-profit organizations with considerable reach. I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the Bureau for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established.

The 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. This specifically includes both the investigations themselves and the activities associated with Iran-Contra affair. This information is significant and goes to the public's faith in the government's integrity and ability to investigate itself, including the suppression of evidence.

Additional evidence to be considered:

President Ronald Reagan himself said that it was important for the information to be made available, saying that “‘The [Tower] board is convinced that the President does indeed want the full story to be told.’ And that will continue to my pledge to you as the [Iran-Contra] other investigation go forward.”

President Reagan also commented that the lack of information relating to this case negatively impacted the public's faith in him and the government. “I paid a price for my silence [about Iran-Contra and the investigations] in terms of your trust and confidence.”

It's notable that neither President Reagan nor any President (or Attorney General or FBI Director) since has expressed a position contrary to this, making it the de facto stance of the Executive Branch of the United States Government, including the Department of Justice and the FBI.

Several government reports, such as the Walsh Report, documented the impact of this case on the most senior levels of government and the public's faith in it, as well as the importance of the case and the necessity for transparency:

“The operational aspects of Iran/contra were carried out by the national security adviser to the President and the National Security Council staff, who were aided by private operatives they recruited. “

“The criminal investigation established that President Reagan, with the support of Vice President Bush, promulgated the two policies that drove Iran/contra:

-- that the contras would be kept viable as an insurgent force during the Boland cut-off period from October 1984 to October 1986, and

-- that arms would be sold to Iran, first from Israeli stocks and later directly from the United States, in exchange for the release of Americans held hostage in the Middle East.

The investigation also established that the President, Vice President and Regan were briefed regularly and in considerable detail as to the operations being conducted to carry out those policies. “

“The OIC found considerable evidence that the President and the Vice President knew about and, in some instances, directly participated in contra-funding efforts during this period -- including third-country donations, quid-pro-quo arrangements to encourage third-country support, and contributions from private citizens. In addition, there was evidence that Bush's aides Gregg and Watson had information on North's direction of the contra-resupply effort through Gregg's close relationship with Felix Rodriguez, a former CIA operative whom North enlisted as a part of his contra-supply organization. Gregg claimed that, notwithstanding the Administration's interest in the success of the contras, he never mentioned any information regarding contra resupply to Vice President Bush, the person he was advising on national security matters.”

“[The] Independent Counsel concluded that President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Regan, Meese and other senior Administration officials in November 1986 undertook to ``rearrange the record,'' as Secretary of State George P. Shultz put it in a conversation with his senior advisers, in an effort to protect the President and themselves from accusations of possible violations of law. A particular concern was that the 1985 Iran arms sales from Israeli stocks violated the congressional notification requirement of the Arms Export Control Act. Evidence to support this conclusion was obtained by Independent Counsel in 1991 and 1992 from notes, diaries and documents previously withheld from the Tower Commission, the congressional Select Committees and the OIC. The withheld evidence demonstrated that:

-- President Reagan authorized the 1985 sale of TOW and HAWK missiles from Israeli stocks in an effort to free Americans held hostage even though he was warned such sales were in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

-- The President's senior national security advisers -- Vice President Bush, Shultz, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, CIA Director William J. Casey, and Regan -- were informed in 1985 of presidential approval of the transactions.”

“The underlying facts of Iran/contra are that, regardless of criminality, President Reagan, the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, and the director of central intelligence and their necessary assistants committed themselves, however reluctantly, to two programs contrary to congressional policy and contrary to national policy. They skirted the law, some of them broke the law, and almost all of them tried to cover up the President's willful activities.

What protection do the people of the United States have against such a concerted action by such powerful officers? The Constitution provides for congressional oversight and congressional control of appropriations, but if false information is given to Congress, these checks and balances are of lessened value. Further, in the give and take of the political community, congressional oversight is often overtaken and subordinated by the need to keep Government functioning, by the need to anticipate the future, and by the ever-present requirement of maintaining consensus among the elected officials who are the Government.”

“Fundamentally, the Iran/contra affair was the first known criminal assault on the post-Watergate rules governing the activities of national security officials. Reagan Administration officials rendered these rules ineffective by creating private operations, supported with privately generated funds that successfully evaded executive and legislative oversight and control. Congress was defrauded. Its appropriations restrictions having been circumvented, Congress was led to believe that the Administration was following the law. Numerous congressional inquiries were thwarted through false testimony and the destruction and concealment of government records.

The destruction and concealment of records and information, beginning at the twilight of Iran/contra and continuing throughout subsequent investigations, should be of particular concern."

“The Iran/contra investigation will not end the kind of abuse of power that it addressed any more than the Watergate investigation did. The criminality in both affairs did not arise primarily out of ordinary venality or greed, although some of those charged were driven by both. Instead, the crimes committed in Iran/contra were motivated by the desire of persons in high office to pursue controversial policies and goals even when the pursuit of those policies and goals was inhibited or restricted by executive orders, statutes or the constitutional system of checks and balances.

The tone in Iran/contra was set by President Reagan. He directed that the contras be supported, despite a ban on contra aid imposed on him by Congress. And he was willing to trade arms to Iran for the release of Americans held hostage in the Middle East, even if doing so was contrary to the nation's stated policy and possibly in violation of the law.

The lesson of Iran/contra is that if our system of government is to function properly, the branches of government must deal with one another honestly and cooperatively. “

I look forward to your prompt response to my request for the waiving of duplication fees.

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

11/21/2016 12:33 PM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2017-000804

From: FOIA Online

This screenshot of the status of this appeal was taken from FOIA Online.

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

DOJ-AP-2017-000804 has been processed with the following final disposition: Completely reversed/remanded.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

The request has been rejected by the agency.

From: Emma Best

When can I expect a ruling on the fee waiver which I requested over a year ago, which you declined to process and the DOJ's OIP has since remanded to you to finally make a ruling on?

Files

pages

Close