Syrian Electronic Army (U.S. Department of State)

Emma Best filed this request with the U.S. Department of State of the United States of America.
Tracking #

F-2019-01471

Multi Request Syrian Electronic Army
Due Dec. 18, 2018
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Emma Best


To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

Files, including cables, memos, emails and damage assessments, mentioning the Syrian Electronic Army, group of computer hackers which first surfaced online in 2011 to support the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Using spamming, website defacement, malware, phishing, and denial-of-service attacks, it has targeted political opposition groups, western news organizations, human rights groups and websites that are seemingly neutral to the Syrian conflict. It has also hacked government websites in the Middle East and Europe, as well as US defense contractors. As of 2011 the SEA has been "the first Arab country to have a public Internet Army hosted on its national networks to openly launch cyber attacks on its enemies."

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities, with some reaching over 100,000 readers in outlets such as MuckRock, Motherboard, Property of the People, AND Magazine, Unicorn Riot, and more. 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 non-profits such as the library Internet Archive and and the journalist non-profit, MuckRock, 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 my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available, I 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,

Emma Best

From: U.S. Department of State

Good Morning,
We received your FOIA request dated 11/19/18 for the subject above.
Your request letter didn't provide a time frame for the search of records, which is required for FOIA requests.
You can fax the supplemental information or email to our FOIA website for quicker process: FOIARequest@state.gov<mailto:FOIARequest@state.gov<mailto:FOIARequest@state.gov%3cmailto:FOIARequest@state.gov>>.
Please use Reference # F-2019-01471.
v/r Kristi Browning
Department of State
FOIA
A/GIS/IPS/RL
Fax: 202-261-8579

From: Emma Best

Neither statute nor case law requires it, but you may limit the search to 01-01-2000 through the present.

From: U.S. Department of State

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: U.S. Department of State

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: U.S. Department of State

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: U.S. Department of State

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: U.S. Department of State

Ms. Best,

This is in response to your fax dated December 17, 2018 concerning your FOIA case control number F-2019-01471.

Your request is in process. You will be notified of the results of the Department's search and review efforts in response to this request as soon as that information becomes available.

Please note that the Department currently has a backlog of approximately 11,000 cases. As the Department continues to work through its backlog, it is mindful of its accountability to the public.

We truly appreciate your continued patience.

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 send an e-mail to foiastatus@state.gov<mailto:foiastatus@state.gov>.
Regards,
U.S. Department of State
FOIA Requester Service Center

Official - Transitory
UNCLASSIFIED

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