Operation Safeguard contract and MOU/MOA

Shawn Musgrave filed this request with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Tracking # 2015-ICFO-88977
Est. Completion None
Status
No Responsive Documents

Communications

From: Shawn Musgrave

To Whom It May Concern:

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

All contracts and/or memorandums of agreement/understanding (MOA/MOUs) between ICE and General Atomics (and/or its subsidiary General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI)) to launch and develop the Border Patrol's unmanned aerial systems program as part of Operation Safeguard, which was conducted by ICE in 2003 to evaluate the Predator B :

Operation Safeguard has been described in a number of reports prepared by the Congressional Research Service (see, for instance https://epic.org/privacy/surveillance/spotlight/0805/rscb.pdf and http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADA477186). From one such CRS report dated February 7, 2005:

"The Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) evaluated the Predator B used during Operation Safeguard, which began October 29, 2003, and ended November 12, 2003. General Atomics Corp. flew the Predator B during simulated night and daytime border demonstrations. [....] The key component of Operation Safeguard was to identify potential threats crossing the southern border illegally."

See also this 2005 press release from General Atomics (see http://media.ga.com/2005/09/01/general-atomics-aeronautical-systems-awarded-dhscbp-uas-contract/): "GA-ASI’s relationship with the DHS began in November 2003 when Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) conducted a test mission along the southwest border of the U.S., near Gila Bend, AZ, utilizing Predator B. The border surveillance mission, which ran for 115 hours over a two-week period, both day and night, showcased the ability of the aircraft to locate and track illegal immigrants, with the surveillance video serving as vital evidence in court prosecutions."

Given that this FOIA is submitted in my capacity as a journalist who has covered the Department of Homeland Security and drones extensively, I request that I be categorized as a media requester for the purpose of fees. Here is a selection of my published articles on MuckRock to substantiate my claim that I should be categorized as a media (as opposed to "commercial" or "non-commercial" requester) for the purpose of fees:

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/jan/12/how-843-lbs-seized-pot-lead-customs-and-border-pro/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/mar/03/us-marshals-service-conceal-key-details-millions-s/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/feb/27/while-dodging-direct-question-fbi-commits-obama-st/

https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2015/jan/22/air-force-knows-how-many-mq-9-drones-it-wants-cant/

I have also been published in a number of other national media outlets on topics pertaining to national security, law enforcement and homeland security processes:

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-us-spent-360-million-on-border-drones-thanks-to-this-flimsy-report

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-air-force-says-it-needs-precisely-52-new-reaper-drones-cant-explain-why

https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/04/08/big-brother-better-police-work-new-technology-automatically-runs-license-plates-everyone/1qoAoFfgp31UnXZT2CsFSK/story.html

www.betaboston.com/news/2014/03/05/a-vast-hidden-surveillance-network-runs-across-america-powered-by-the-repo-industry/

https://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/05/nypd-social-media-policy-allows-catfishing-with-the-proper-paperwork.html

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2014/12/03/the-pentagon-finally-details-its-weapons-for-cops-giveaway

https://news.vice.com/article/fbi-agent-who-killed-boston-bombing-suspects-friend-was-twice-accused-of-police-brutality

As the requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com and pertains to a matter of considerable public interest, I further request a full waiver of all fees.

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,

Shawn Musgrave

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

July 24, 2015 SHAWN MUSGRAVE MUCKROCK DEPT MR 19859 PO BOX 55819 BOSTON, MA 02250-5819 RE:     ICE FOIA Case Number 2015-ICFO-88977 Dear Mr. MUSGRAVE: This acknowledges receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), dated July 22, 2015, and to your request for a waiver of all assessable FOIA fees. Your request was received in this office on July 22, 2015. Specifically, you requested all contracts and/or memorandums of agreement/understanding (MOA/MOUs) between ICE and General Atomics (and/or its subsidiary General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI)) to launch and develop the Border Patrol's unmanned aerial systems program as part of Operation Safeguard, which was conducted by ICE in 2003 to evaluate the Predator B. Due to the increasing number of FOIA requests received by this office, we may encounter some delay in processing your request. Per Section 5.5(a) of the DHS FOIA regulations, 6 C.F.R. Part 5, ICE processes FOIA requests according to their order of receipt. Although ICE’s goal is to respond within 20 business days of receipt of your request, the FOIA does permit a 10- day extension of this time period. As your request seeks numerous documents that will necessitate a thorough and wide-ranging search, ICE will invoke a 10-day extension for your request, as allowed by Title 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(B). If you care to narrow the scope of your request, please contact our office. We will make every effort to comply with your request in a timely manner. After thoroughly reviewing your letter and request for fee waiver, I have determined that you have not presented a convincing argument that MUCKROCK DEPT MR 19859 is entitled to a blanket waiver of applicable fees. The DHS FOIA Regulations at 6 CFR § 5.11(k)(2) set forth six factors to examine in determining whether the applicable legal standard for a fee waiver has been met.  We will consider these factors in our evaluation of your request for a fee waiver: (1) Whether the subject of the requested records concerns “the operations or activities of the government”; (2) Whether the disclosure is “likely to contribute” to an understanding of government operations or activities; (3) Whether disclosure of the requested information will contribute to the understanding of the public at large, as opposed to the individual understanding of the requestor or a narrow segment of interested persons; (4) Whether the contribution to public understanding of government operations or activities will be "significant"; (5) Whether the requester has a commercial interest that would be furthered by the requested disclosure; and (6) Whether the magnitude of any identified commercial interest to the requestor is sufficiently large in comparison with the public interest in disclosure, that disclosure is primarily in the commercial interest of the requestor. As a requester, you bear the burden under FOIA of showing that the fee waiver requirements have been met.  Based on my review of your July 22, 2015 letter and for the reasons stated herein, I have determined that your fee waiver request is deficient because your request did not satisfy factors 4, 5, and 6.  Since your request for a fee waiver has failed to satisfy each of the required factors, I am denying your fee waiver request. Provisions of the FOIA allow us to recover part of the cost of complying with your request.  We shall charge you for records in accordance with the DHS Interim FOIA regulations as they apply to commercial requesters.  As a commercial requester, you will be charged 10 cents per page for duplication, and for search and review time at the per quarter-hour rate ($4.00 for clerical personnel, $7.00 for professional personnel, $10.25 for managerial personnel) of the searcher and reviewer.  We will construe the submission of your request as an agreement to pay up to $25.00. You will be contacted before any further fees are accrued. You have the right to appeal the determination to deny your fee waiver request. Should you wish to do so, please send your appeal following the procedures outlined in the DHS regulations at 6 Code of Federal Regulations § 5.9 and a copy of this letter to: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of Principal Legal Advisor U.S. Department of Homeland Security Freedom of Information Act Office 500 12th Street, S.W., Stop 5009 Washington, D.C. 20536-5009 Your appeal must be received within 60 days of the date of this letter.  Your envelope and letter should be marked “FOIA Appeal.”  Copies of the FOIA and DHS regulations are available at www.dhs.gov/foia . ICE has queried the appropriate program offices within ICE for responsive records. If any responsive records are located, they will be reviewed for determination of releasability. Please be assured that one of the processors in our office will respond to your request as expeditiously as possible. We appreciate your patience as we proceed with your request.
Your request has been assigned reference number 2015-ICFO-88977. Please refer to this identifier in any future correspondence. To check the status of an ICE FOIA/PA request, please visit . Please note that to check the status of a request, you must enter the 2014-ICFO-XXXXX or 2015-ICFO-XXXXX tracking number. You may contact this office at (866) 633-1182. Our mailing address is 500 12th Street, S.W., Stop 5009, Washington, D.C. 20536-5009. (http://www.dhs.gov/foia-status) http://www.dhs.gov/foia-status
Regards,
ICE FOIA Office
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Freedom of Information Act Office
500 12th Street, S.W., Stop 5009
Washington, D.C. 20536-5009
Telephone: 1-866-633-1182
Visit our FOIA website at
www.ice.gov/foia

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

July 24, 2015 SHAWN MUSGRAVE MUCKROCK DEPT MR 19859 PO BOX 55819 BOSTON, MA 02250-5819 RE:     ICE FOIA Case Number 2015-ICFO-88977This e-mail is in regards to your July 22, 2015 ICE FOIA request for
all contracts and/or memorandums of agreement/understanding (MOA/MOUs) between ICE and General Atomics (and/or its subsidiary General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI)) to launch and develop the Border Patrol's unmanned aerial systems program as part of Operation Safeguard, which was conducted by ICE in 2003 to evaluate the Predator B.
In conducting a search for responsive records, the ICE FOIA office has determined that further clarification is needed regarding your request. Please provide the contract numbers pertaining to your request. Please provide the ICE FOIA office with a response as soon as possible to avoid any further delay in the processing of your request. If a response is not received within 10 business days, your request will be administratively closed.
Sincerely,
ICE FOIA

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello -

This is a followup for FOIA 2015-ICFO-88977, in which I requested the contracts and agreements regarding Operation Safeguard.

First, I request that you reconsider my categorization as a commercial requester for the purpose of fees. As indicated in the initial request letter, I have been published extensively on the subject of drones and the history of domestic drone deployments. I have written specifically on initial studies conducted by ICE and CBP to evaluate the utility of unmanned vehicles for border monitoring. My drone coverage has been published on MuckRock as well as on other outlets, including Motherboard and Gothamist. Based on publication history alone, I clearly meet the qualifications of being classified as a media requester for the purpose of fees.

I have been recognized with grants and awards for my coverage of law enforcement and technology. I am a two-time grantee from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, and a recent recipient of a grant from the Nation Institute. My work has also been published in The Boston Globe, The Marshall Project, The Daily Beast, Boston Magazine, Dig Boston, and a number of academic publications.

In short, I am a journalist. Other Department of Homeland Security components have recognized this fact and categorized me appropriately per James Holzer's memos on fee categorization. Other federal agencies have likewise categorized me as a media requester.

In light of the above, I respectfully request that ICE appropriately change my classification to reflect my status as a media requester.

Regarding clarification, I have provided the relevant project, the contractor and timeframes. I do not have relevant contract numbers, but the information provided in my original request should be sufficient to allow an ICE employee to search for the requested contracts. A number of federal agencies have successfully located requested contracts with this information.

Please advise if you require further materials or clarification from me as to my request scope or qualifications as a journalist requester for the purpose of fees.

Best,
Shawn Musgrave
Investigative reporter, MuckRock

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

July 26, 2015
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Freedom of Information Act/Privacy Office
800 North Capitol Street, NW, Room 585
Washington, DC 20536-5009

This is a follow up to request number 2015-ICFO-88977:

Hello -

This is a followup for FOIA 2015-ICFO-88977, in which I requested the contracts and agreements regarding Operation Safeguard.

First, I request that you reconsider my categorization as a commercial requester for the purpose of fees. As indicated in the initial request letter, I have been published extensively on the subject of drones and the history of domestic drone deployments. I have written specifically on initial studies conducted by ICE and CBP to evaluate the utility of unmanned vehicles for border monitoring. My drone coverage has been published on MuckRock as well as on other outlets, including Motherboard and Gothamist. Based on publication history alone, I clearly meet the qualifications of being classified as a media requester for the purpose of fees.

I have been recognized with grants and awards for my coverage of law enforcement and technology. I am a two-time grantee from the Fund for Investigative Journalism, and a recent recipient of a grant from the Nation Institute. My work has also been published in The Boston Globe, The Marshall Project, The Daily Beast, Boston Magazine, Dig Boston, and a number of academic publications.

In short, I am a journalist. Other Department of Homeland Security components have recognized this fact and categorized me appropriately per James Holzer's memos on fee categorization. Other federal agencies have likewise categorized me as a media requester.

In light of the above, I respectfully request that ICE appropriately change my classification to reflect my status as a media requester.

Regarding clarification, I have provided the relevant project, the contractor and timeframes. I do not have relevant contract numbers, but the information provided in my original request should be sufficient to allow an ICE employee to search for the requested contracts. A number of federal agencies have successfully located requested contracts with this information.

Please advise if you require further materials or clarification from me as to my request scope or qualifications as a journalist requester for the purpose of fees.

Best,
Shawn Musgrave
Investigative reporter, MuckRock
---
On July 24, 2015:
July 24, 2015 SHAWN MUSGRAVE MUCKROCK DEPT MR 19859 PO BOX 55819 BOSTON, MA 02250-5819 RE:     ICE FOIA Case Number 2015-ICFO-88977This e-mail is in regards to your July 22, 2015 ICE FOIA request for
all contracts and/or memorandums of agreement/understanding (MOA/MOUs) between ICE and General Atomics (and/or its subsidiary General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI)) to launch and develop the Border Patrol's unmanned aerial systems program as part of Operation Safeguard, which was conducted by ICE in 2003 to evaluate the Predator B.
In conducting a search for responsive records, the ICE FOIA office has determined that further clarification is needed regarding your request. Please provide the contract numbers pertaining to your request. Please provide the ICE FOIA office with a response as soon as possible to avoid any further delay in the processing of your request. If a response is not received within 10 business days, your request will be administratively closed.
Sincerely,
ICE FOIA
---

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 July 22, 2015. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2015-ICFO-88977.

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

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 July 22, 2015. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #2015-ICFO-88977.

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

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