|Submitted||July 22, 2017|
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Operation Mockingbird was a controversial and difficult to identify program. According to various leaks, it was an alleged large-scale program of the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that began in the early 1950s and attempted to manipulate news media for propaganda purposes. It funded student and cultural organizations and magazines as front organizations. According to CIA’s Crown Jewels, however, it was merely an effort to tap the telephones of certain reporters. These 47 pages of documents may help set the matter to rest and make new information available to the public about either CIA’s surveillance of or exploitation of domestic journalists.
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To Whom It May Concern:
This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:
Copies of materials located in O-R (IV-FF), Project MOCKINGBIRD - Telephone Tap of Newspaper Columnists, listed within U.S. PRESIDENT'S COMMISSION ON CIA ACTIVITIES WITHIN THE UNITED STATES: Files, [1947-1974] 1975 on https://www.fordlibrarymuseum.gov/library/guides/findingaid/U.S.%20President%27s%20Commission%20on%20CIA%20Activities%20Within%20the%20United%20States%20-%20Files.htm
I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I am freelance writer who has previously written about the government and its activities for MuckRock, Motherboard, Unicorn Riot, AND Magazine and Glomar Disclosure. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. My work has been further discussed in outlets including the New York Times, the Washington Post, and BBC. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived. Per DOJ FOIA guidance, "a requester should be granted a fee waiver if the requested information (1) sheds light on the activities and operations of the government; (2) is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of those operations and activities; and (3) is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester." As this FOIA meets all of those requirements (see above regarding the subject and how I will apply the information), a fee waiver is warranted.
The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.
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.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
This is in response to your e-mail of July 22, 2017 concerning a Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) request for documents located in the U.S.
President's Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States
(Rockefeller Commission) at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library in Ann
For further reference, please keep in mind that the vast majority of the
holdings of Presidential Libraries prior to the Presidential Records Act
(PRA) of 1978 (Herbert Hoover through Jimmy Carter), are deed of gift
libraries, and their holdings are subject to Mandatory Declassification
Review (MDR), not FOIA. The holdings of Presidential Libraries under the
PRA, currently from Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, are subject to FOIA.
Nevertheless, the documents within the folder pertaining to your request
from the Ford Library have been reviewed and released to the public.
Therefore, at the outset, it will also not be necessary for you to request
them through MDR. Here is a link to the finding aid that lists the folder
in Box 3:
The O-R (IV-FF), Project MOCKINGBIRD - Telephone Tap of Newspaper
Columnists folder contains documents, all of which have been released to
the public, at least in part. There are no withdrawal sheets within the
folder indicating that a document or documents have been denied in full
(completely withdrawn from the folder) for National Security, agency
policy, or privacy restrictions. However, some documents do contain
redacted portions from previously submitted MDR cases.
If you would like to purchase photocopies of the documents in this folder
(at 80 cents per page when done by Ford Library staff), it contains
approximately 47 pages of documents related to Project MOCKINGBIRD.
Archives technician John O'Connell is the Ford Library staff member who
handles large photocopy and scanning requests from researchers, and he is
copied on this e-mail. Please contact John by telephone or e-mail at (734)
205-0559 or email@example.com if you would like photocopies or scans
of the documents in the Project MOCKINGBIRD folder.
If you have any further questions, including questions about possibly
submitting an MDR request for the redacted documents, please contact me by
telephone or e-mail. Here is the link from our website containing
information on the MDR process (and ordering photocopies):
Thank you for your interest in the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library
1000 Beal Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Phone: (734) 205-0558
Fax: (734) 205-0571
We would be happy to provide the $37.60 for these materials. Please let us know when and to whom such payment should be sent.
Attached is the Project Mockingbird digital files. If you have any problems
opening the file or with the image resolution, please let me know.
JOHN J. O'CONNELL
*JOHN J. O'CONNELL*
*Gerald R. Ford Library*
1000 Beal Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
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