Justice Department tracking of cell site simulator approvals under exigent circumstances

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the Department of Justice - FOIA/PA Mail Referral Unit of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Due Feb. 29, 2016
Est. Completion None
Awaiting Response


From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

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

The list, database or other document by which the Criminal Division tracks approvals for the use of a cell site simulator pursuant to exceptional circumstances (i.e., instances in which the law does not require a search warrant and circumstances make obtaining a search warrant impracticable), as well as the number of times such approvals are issued.

Per the amended policy on cell site simulators, "Department of Justice Policy Guidance: Use of Cell-Site Simulator Technology" (available at http://www.justice.gov/opa/file/767321/download): "There may also be other circumstances in which, although exigent circumstances do not exist, the law does not require a search warrant and circumstances make obtaining a search warrant impracticable. In such cases, which we expect to be very limited, agents must first obtain approval from executive-level personnel at the agency's headquarters and the relevant U.S. Attorney, and then from a Criminal Division DAAG. The Criminal Division shall keep track of the number of times the use of a cell-site simulator is approved under this subsection, as well as the circumstances underlying each such use."

As I am submitting this FOIA request in my capacity as a journalist who has covered extensively the deployment of cell site simulators by law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels, I assert that I am appropriately categorized as a media requester for the purpose of fees. As this request concerns a matter of intense public interest and responsive documents will be posted online for the public to review free of charge, I further request a waiver of any applicable fees.

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.


Shawn Musgrave
New England Center for Investigate Reporting

From: Muckrock Staff

To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following request, copied below.

Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response.

Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.

From: Department of Justice - FOIA/PA Mail Referral Unit

Please see the attached response to your FOIA request. Please note, your request has been assigned tracking number EMRUFOIA101518.

From: Department of Justice - FOIA/PA Mail Referral Unit

Dear Mr. Musgrave:

This responds to your status inquiry dated October 15, 2018 concerning your pending Freedom of Information Act request received on February 5, 2016 for records concerning sample applications for cell site simulator warrants.

Please be advised that your request is being processed on the complex track. On average, it takes the FOIA/PA Unit 203 days to process a complex request. Please note that 203 working days is the average, with fifty percent of cases being completed sooner, and the other fifty percent of cases requiring additional time. At this time, your request has been pending for 714 business days. The request is being processed.

Your continued patience is appreciated and we apologize for the delays in the processing of your request. Please feel free to follow up with the FOIA/PA Unit in sixty days if you would like another status update on your request

Thank you,

Criminal Division
U.S. Department of Justice