Operation Safeguard (ICE)

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




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 following documents pertaining to Operation Safeguard, which was conducted by ICE in 2003 to evaluate the Predator B :

-The concept of operations (CONOPS) or similar foundational document(s) outlining the basic structure, aims, design and participants of Operation Safeguard.

-The findings and final report from Operation Safeguard, as well as any reports to Congress that resulted.

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."

I also request that 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.

I furthermore request a fee waiver on the basis of my status as a journalist who has covered unmanned aerial vehicles extensively. For examples of my work on UAVs, see: motherboard.vice.com/tag/The+Drone+Census

Here is a selection of my published articles on drones, the first of which pertains to DHS drone use, in particular:




I have also been published in a handful of other national media outlets:




The present FOIA request concerns a matter of interest to the public, as demonstrated not only by avid readership of my articles and considerable activism around UAV legislation nationwide, but also by congressional hearings and Inspector General reports on the same.

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.


Shawn Musgrave

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

February 05, 2015

DEPT MR15759
PO BOX 55819
BOSTON, MA 02205-5819

RE: ICE FOIA Case Number 2015-ICFO-66842


This acknowledges receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), dated January 23, 2015, and to your request for a waiver of all assessable FOIA fees. Your request was received in this office on February 05, 2015. Specifically, you requested documents pertaining to Operation Safeguard conducted by ICE in 2003 to evaluate the Predator B. Request the CONOPS or similar foundational documents outlining the basic structure, aims, design and participants of Operation Safeguard. Request the findings and final report from Operation Safeguard, as well as any reports to Congress that resulted.

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 NEWS 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 January 23, 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 non-commercial requesters. As a non-commercial requester, you will be charged 10 cents per page for duplication; the first 100 pages are free, as are the first two hours of search time, after which you will pay the per quarter-hour rate ($4.00 for clerical personnel, $7.00 for professional personnel, $10.25 for managerial personnel) of the searcher. 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-66842. Please refer to this identifier in any future correspondence. You may contact this office at (866) 633-1182.


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: Shawn Musgrave


Thank you for acknowledging this request. While you addressed my fee waiver, you did not address my request to be appropriately classified as a journalist for the purposes of fees. As I outlined at length in my original letter, I have covered UAS and the Department of Homeland Security extensively for a number of outlets. Please revise my classification to media requester for the purpose of fees, and calculate all fee estimates accordingly.

Thank you.

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.

From: Immigration and Customs Enforcement

A letter stating that the request appeal has been rejected.

From: Shawn Musgrave

Hello -

Please provide an update on the status of this request.

Thank you,
Shawn Musgrave
Investigative reporter, MuckRock


Mr. Musgrave,

We are waiting on one program office to complete their search for records.


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 Jan. 23, 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-66842.

Thank you for your help.