State Dissent Channel 2016 (2017 partial)

Emma Best filed this request with the U.S. Department of State of the United States of America.
Tracking # F-2017-05884
Due April 7, 2017
Est. Completion March 10, 2018
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

By the power vested in me under the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

All submissions, memos, emails and other materials filed to or through the "Dissent Channel" in 2016 and 2017 through the date of the processing of this request. As defined under 2 FAM 072, the Dissent Channel “is a serious policy channel reserved only for consideration of responsible dissenting and alternative views on substantive foreign policy issues that cannot be communicated in a full and timely manner through regular operating channels and procedures.”

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. 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.

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.

Sincerely,

Michael Best

From: FOIA Status

Mr. Michael Best,

Your organization has a substantial number of requests. The Department of State keeps track of requests by case numbers. In the future when you request a status on a case please provide the case number in the subject line of your message. This will not only make it easier to find your case, it will facilitate a quick answer to your inquiry.

Please provide the case number of your request so we can answer your inquiry.

We hope this information is helpful. If you have further concerns or any questions regarding any FOIA-related matter, please contact the FOIA Requester Service Center (FRSC) at (202) 261-8484, or fax us at (202) 261-8579 or send an e-mail to foiastatus@state.gov<mailto:foiastatus@state.gov>

Sincerely,

U.S. Department of State
FOIA Requester Service Center
(202) 261-8484
foiastatus@state.gov<mailto:foiastatus@state.gov>

Official - Transitory
UNCLASSIFIED

From: Michael Best

I would love to provide a case number, but you never assigned one or even acknowledged the request.

For your convenience, however, a copy of the request is below:
To Whom It May Concern:

By the power vested in me under the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

All submissions, memos, emails and other materials filed to or through the "Dissent Channel" in 2016 and 2017 through the date of the processing of this request. As defined under 2 FAM 072, the Dissent Channel “is a serious policy channel reserved only for consideration of responsible dissenting and alternative views on substantive foreign policy issues that cannot be communicated in a full and timely manner through regular operating channels and procedures.”

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. 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.

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.

Sincerely,

Michael Best

From: FOIA Status

Mr. Best,

The FOIA Status email mailbox is not the correct avenue that accepts FOIA requests. To file a FOIA request, you must either submit such a request electronically at the Department of State's FOIA website at: www.foia.state.gov<http://www.foia.state.gov>, fax the request to the Requester Communication Branch at: 202 261-8579, or mail the request to: U.S. Department of State, Office of Information Programs and Services, (A/GIS/IPS/RL/RC), 515 22nd Street, N.W., Suite 8100, Washington, D.C. 20522. Once your request has been submitted, the Department will mail an acknowledgment letter with an assigned case control number within a few weeks. If you submitted a request over a month but have not received a letter from Department it is possible the request was never received. In this case, please resubmit your request to the three avenues mentioned.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have further concerns or any questions regarding any FOIA-related matter, please contact the FOIA Requester Service Center (FRSC) at (202) 261-8484, or fax us at (202) 261-8579 or send an e-mail to foiastatus@state.gov<mailto:foiastatus@state.gov>.

Sincerely,

U.S. Department of State
FOIA Requester Service Center
(202) 261-8484
foiastatus@state.gov

From: Michael Best

I am trying to find out the status of the request which you never acknowledged and gave me a tracking number for. I am requesting a status update and giving you all of the information I have. I am NOT submitting a new request.

From: FOIA Status

Mr. Best,

Your emails mentioned that you have never received an acknowledgement letter for both FOIA requests, however, it appears you were mailed an acknowledgement letter on March 23, 2017 with an assigned case control number. Your FOIA case control number regarding all submissions, memos, emails and other materials filed to or through the "Dissent Channel" in 2016 and 2017 is F-2017-05884. Please reference this number in future correspondence so we can answer your inquiry in a prompt and smooth manner.

The Department's electronic case notes indicate the case (F-2017-05884) is still open. I have contacted the case manager assigned to your case and requested an estimated completion date and status update. Once the information becomes available, you will be contacted with further detail. The Department also sent an acknowledgment letter on February 27, 2017 in regards to your second request inquiring copies of all Twitter Direct Messages sent to or from any Agency Twitter accounts. The letter assigned case control number F-2017-03740 and stated the case was closed on February 27, 2017. If you wish to obtain records from the U.S. Department of State regarding this request you will need to submit a new one. When you do a new case number will be generated. Please also direct any future FOIA request to the proper avenue which was mentioned in the previous email.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have further concerns or any questions regarding any FOIA-related matter, please contact the FOIA Requester Service Center (FRSC) at (202) 261-8484, or fax us at (202) 261-8579 or send an e-mail to foiastatus@state.gov<mailto:foiastatus@state.gov>.

Sincerely,
U.S. Department of State
FOIA Requester Service Center
(202) 261-8484
foiastatus@state.gov

From: FOIA Status

Mr. Best,

I checked the status for your case F-2017-05884. The Department's electronic case notes indicate the case is still open.

The estimated completion date (ECD) for this case is March 2018.

ECDs are subject to change and are "strictly" estimates and not intended to be used as "actual" dates of completion, due to various extenuating factors, which may or may not include coordination with other Agencies during the process (referrals, concurrences, etc.). Interim release dates are provided, as applicable.

I hope this information is helpful. If you have further concerns or any questions regarding any FOIA-related matter, please contact the FOIA Requester Service Center (FRSC) at (202) 261-8484, or fax us at (202) 261-8579 or send an e-mail to foiastatus@state.gov.

Sincerely,

U.S. Department of State
FOIA Requester Service Center
(202) 261-8484
foiastatus@state.gov<mailto:foiastatus@state.gov>

Official - Transitory
UNCLASSIFIED

From: MuckRock

To Whom It May Concern:

By the power vested in me under the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

All submissions, memos, emails and other materials filed to or through the "Dissent Channel" in 2016 and 2017 through the date of the processing of this request. As defined under 2 FAM 072, the Dissent Channel “is a serious policy channel reserved only for consideration of responsible dissenting and alternative views on substantive foreign policy issues that cannot be communicated in a full and timely manner through regular operating channels and procedures.”

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. 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.

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.

Sincerely,

Michael Best

From: FOIA Status

Dear Michael Best,

This is in reference to your faxed status letter dated April 24, 2017 to the Office of Information Programs and Services (IPS). Please be advised that IPS is in receipt of your fax. The estimated completion date for your request is still March 2018. This office has nothing new to provide to you at this time.

We appreciate your patience during this process.

If you have any questions regarding the status of your request, please contact the FOIA Requester Service Center (FRSC) on 202-261-8484 and refer to your case control number.

Sincerely,

Charlotte W. Duckett
U.S. Department of State

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