Request for Documents Pertaining to Use of Mefloquine at Guantanamo

Jeffrey Kaye filed this request with the SOUTHCOM - US Southern Command of the United States of America.
Tracking # 14-0022-A1
Due Aug. 13, 2014
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Jeffrey Kaye

To Whom It May Concern:

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

I request all documents related to the decision to use mefloquine on incoming detainees at Guantanamo for the purposes of malaria treatment or prophylaxis, or any other purpose for which mefloquine was to be used. The dates of interest span from the period September 11, 2001 to December 31, 2002. In particular, I include in this request all discussions on malaria issues with Cuban officials as it would relate to the incoming detainees. I also request that the document search include communications within or between Task Force 160, Task Force 170, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and communications from these to the Surgeon General's office, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), as it pertains to the decision to use the anti-malarial drug mefloquine at Guantanamo.

I also request that, if appropriate, 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.

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,

Jeffrey Kaye

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 Nov. 6, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.

Thank you for your help.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED

Mr. Kaye,

This a follow up to our telephone conversation concerning the status of your FOIA request. Your FOIA request case control number is SC 14-011-F. We will do our maximum effort to provide you with a final response soonest. Thank you for your patience.

r/
Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
(305) 437-1108

From: SOUTHCOM - US Southern Command

A no responsive documents response.

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 Nov. 6, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #SC 14-011-F.

Thank you for your help.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

We mailed our final response on or about January 28, 2014. Thank you for contacting us.

r/
Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
(305) 437-1108

From: MuckRock

Hello,

This response was not received. Please resend?

Thank you.

From: Villalobos, Marco T CIV SOUTHCOM SC-CC (US)

CLASSIFICATION:UNCLASSIFIED

Dr. Kaye,

Did you finally received our written final response via mail?

r/
Marco T. Villalobos
Command FOIA Manager
(305) 437-1108

From: MuckRock

Received. Thank you.

From: Jeffrey Kaye

Mr. James Hogan
Chief Defense Freedom of Information Policy Office
1155 Defense-Pentagon
Washington, D.C. 20301-1155.

Re: Freedom of Information Act Appeal, Reference No. SC 14-O11-F

Dear Mr. Hogan,

This letter constitutes an official appeal of a response from the SOUTHCOM FOIA office, that my request for records pertaining to “all documents related to the decision to use mefloquine on incoming detainees at Guantanamo for the purposes of treatment or prophylaxis, or any other purpose for which mefloquine was to be used” had returned no responsive documents.

On January 27, 2014 Marco Villalobos, SOUTHCOM Command FOIA Manager, replied to my original FOIA request, dated November 6, 2013:

“We conducted a thorough and extensive search of our shared computer drives and hard copy files for information responsive to your FOIA. However, after a search of electronic and paper records we found the United States Southern Command has no responsive records.”

A copy of Mr. Villalobos’s letter is included with this appeal.

My request had specified “dates of interest” for such records” spanning “from the period September 11, 2011 to December 31, 2002. In particular, I include in this request all discussions on malaria issues with Cuban officials as it would relate to the incoming detainees. I also request that the document search include communications within or between Task Force 160, Task Force 170, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and communications from these to the Surgeon General's office, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), as it pertains to the decision to use the anti-malarial drug mefloquine at Guantanamo."

The basis of my appeal rests on both newspaper accounts contemporaneous with the events in question, government declassified documents, and personal interview with a Guantanamo medical officer during the period in question.

1) The use of mefloquine at Guantanamo was reported by Carol Rosenberg at the Miami Herald on February 22, 2002. In her article, she wrote about what she was told about malaria concerns at Guantanamo. Her informant was “Navy Capt. Al Shimkus, commander of the Naval Hospital at the base.”

“Steps to stop the spread of malaria include impregnating the uniforms of both prisoners and troops who handle prisoners with mefloquin [sic] and other agents to kill the parasite that causes the malady,” Rosenberg wrote. [URL for article: http://www.cubanet.org/CNews/y02/feb02/22e3.htm]

While Ms. Rosenberg misspells the word mefloquine, it’s obvious she is referring to that drug. She also appears to misunderstand the use of the drug, or conversely, was misinformed to its typical use. In any case, the reference shows that mefloquine use was under discussion at the time I inquired about records.

2) A January 23, 2002, “Infection Control” Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), declassified by the government, described the mass presumptive treatment of malaria using mefloquine. See page 7 of this document: http://www.dod.gov/pubs/foi/operation_and_plans/Detainee/death_investigation/medical-1/Pages_12-19_from_Dickstein_Medical_Files_folder_1_of_3_part_3_of_81.pdf

The SOP clearly states that as part of “Standard Inprocessing Orders for Detainees” “Mefloquine 750 mg PO now, 500 mg PO in 12 hours” was to be administered.

As this was documentary evidence that a policy of mefloquine use at treatment, not prophylactic levels, was “standard” treatment at Guantanamo for incoming detainees, there must be some documentary evidence of the medical or military or intelligence decision process used in selecting that particular drug.

3) In an interview with Captain Al Shimkus in late 2010, which I undertook for an article subsequently published at the website Truthout on December 20, 2010, Captain Shimkus described a series of discussions with other agencies he held on the antimalarial protocols, which included the decision to use mefloquine as described above. The relevant portion of that Truthout article follows:

“Shimkus, who is now an associate professor of national security studies at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, said officials from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Navy Environmental Health Center (NEHC) and the Armed Forces Medical Intelligence Center at Fort Detrick, Maryland, which is part of the Defense Intelligence Agency, were all involved in the discussions that resulted in the issuance of a January 23, 2002, ‘Infection Control’ Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that called for the mass presumptive treatment of malaria using mefloquine.

“Detainees started arriving at Guantanamo two weeks earlier and were held in a detention center known as Camp X-Ray.

“The ‘Infection Control’ SOP, which was signed by Shimkus and has not been previously released, says, ‘detainees are native to a region plagued by a number of infectious diseases. It is estimated that a number of these detainees will carry one or more of these illnesses upon arrival … Empiric therapies will include … mefloquine 1250 mg.’

“Medical literature usually describes ‘empiric therapy,’ or presumptive treatment for malaria, as the administration or self-administration of antimalarial drugs for symptomatic individuals, or occasionally groups of at-risk patients, who do not have access to laboratories or medical facilities and in whom malaria cannot be formally diagnosed.

“At Guantanamo, however, all detainees, whether they had symptoms or not, were given laboratory tests to determine if they had malaria, and doctors were accessible ‘24/7’ in the event symptoms started to surface, Shimkus said, calling into question the rationale for mass presumptive treatment.

“Shimkus said the NEHC bore the primary responsibility for recommending that mefloquine be administered to all detainees in treatment doses, but there was consensus among the various government agencies about using the drug in this way.

‘’’There was no one that said, “Captain, this is not the way to go,’ Shimkus said. ‘I did not do anything in isolation. Any policy would have been approved by a higher authority’ up the medical chain of command.

“Shimkus could not recall the names of the officials from the various government agencies who agreed with and signed off on the policy. Nor could he identify his immediate medical supervisor, a colonel at United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), which is responsible for contingency planning and operations in Cuba, who Shimkus said would have also been involved in the decision.” [URL: http://truth-out.org/component/k2/item/254]

As the above quotes make clear, Captain Shimkus stated on the record that mefloquine was discussed with other government agencies, other DoD components, as well as his “immediate medical supervisor, a colonel at United States Southern Command.”

Given all the above, it defies logic and documentary evidence to believe that the discussions on mefloquine use at Guantanamo bore zero responsive documents upon search. Either the search was insufficient, or was conducted in a manner that excluded documentation. In any case, I appeal the findings of “no responsive records” by SOUTHCOM’s FOIA office and ask that the search be conducted again, taking into account the information in this appeal.

Sincerely,

Jeffrey Kaye

From: SOUTHCOM - US Southern Command

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

From: SOUTHCOM - US Southern Command

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

From: Jeffrey Kaye

Ms. Alisa Turner
alisa.n.turner4@mail.mil
Department of Defense
Defense Freedom of Information Policy Office
1155 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1155

Re: Reference 14-AC-0022-A1
FOIA #SC 14-011-F

Dear Ms. Turner,

A letter was sent to me as an ostensible response to a FOIA appeal I made on March 5, 2014. The letter was misdirected. It concerned, apparently, a FOIA request by Mr. Remington Nevin (#FA-15-001). I cannot consider this a response to my appeal.

As I stated back on March 5, 2014, my appeal concerned "a response from the SOUTHCOM FOIA office, that my request for records pertaining to 'all documents related to the decision to use mefloquine on incoming detainees at Guantanamo for the purposes of treatment or prophylaxis, or any other purpose for which mefloquine was to be used' had returned no responsive documents."

In my original request, dated 11/6/2013, I noted the dates of interest for my FOIA request spanned "from the period September 11, 2001 to December 31, 2002." In particular, I requested "all discussions on malaria issues with Cuban officials as it would relate to the incoming detainees."

I also requested "that the document search include communications within or between Task Force 160, Task Force 170, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and communications from these to the Surgeon General's office, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Health Affairs, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), as it pertains to the decision to use the anti-malarial drug mefloquine at Guantanamo."

I therefore request a follow-up regarding the status of my March 2014 appeal, and note that the wrongful sending of a reply to another FOIA requester does not in any way close my FOIA request. The parameters of my request and the dates involved appear to be quite different from that of Mr. Nevin.

Please inform me of the status of my appeal.

Sincerely, Jeffrey Kaye

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 Nov. 6, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #FA-15-0017.

Thank you for your help.

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 Nov. 6, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #FA-15-0017.

Thank you for your help.

From: SOUTHCOM - US Southern Command

A letter stating that the request appeal has been rejected.

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 Nov. 6, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed. You had assigned it reference number #FA-15-0017.

Thank you for your help.

From: Tsiklik, Irina

Dear Mr. Kaye: This is an interim response to your May 11, 2016 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appeal, concerning the March 17, 2016, response from this office, case number 14-F-0444.
As indicated in the June 14, 2016 response from Mr. Jim Hogan, Chief, DoD FOIA Policy your request was remanded to this office to conduct a second review of the responsive pages.  Although we have assigned your request to the component for a second review, we will not be able to respond to your request within the FOIA's 20-day statutory time period as there are unusual circumstances which impact on our ability to quickly process your request.  These unusual circumstances are:  (a) the need to search for and collect records from a facility geographically separated from this Office; (b) the potential volume of records responsive to your request; and (c) the need for consultation with one or more other agencies or DoD components having a substantial interest in either the determination or the subject matter of the records.  For these reasons, your request has been placed in our complex processing queue. Our current administrative workload is 1,830 open requests. We regret the anticipated delay in responding to your request and your continued patience is appreciated.
If you have any questions, please contact the Action Officer assigned to your request, Irina Tsiklik, at Irina.Tsiklik.Civ@mail.mil or 571-372-0465.
If you are not satisfied with this action, you may contact our OSD FOIA Public Liaison, Jim Hogan, at 571-372-0462 or by email at OSD.FOIAliaison@mail.mil. Alternatively, you have the right to appeal to the appellate authority, Ms. Joo Chung, Director of Oversight and Compliance, Office of the Secretary of Defense, by writing directly to ODCMO Directorate for Oversight and Compliance, 4800 Mark Center Drive, ATTN: DPCLTD, FOIA Appeals, Mailbox# 24, Alexandria, VA  22350-1700.  Your appeal must be postmarked within 90 calendar days of the date of this response.  Alternatively, you may use the OSD FOIA request portal at http://pal.whs.mil/palMain.aspx or email your appeal to OSD.FOIAliaison@mail.mil.  If you use email, please include the words "FOIA Appeal" in the subject of the email.  Please also reference case number 14-F-0444 in any appeal correspondence.
Lastly, please note that the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) offers services to requesters who have disputes with Federal agencies. If you have concerns about the processing of your request, please contact OGIS at:
Office of Government Information Services National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road-OGIS
College Park, MD 20740
E-mail: ogis@nara.gov
Telephone: 202-741-5770
Fax: 202-741-5769
Toll-free: 1-877-684-6448
Thank you,
Irina Tsiklik
For Yasmeen Hargis, Senior Advisor on behalf of Stephanie L. Carr, Chief, Office of Freedom of Information OSD/JS FOIA Requester Service Center
571-372-0465
Irina.Tsiklik.civ@mail.mil

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