|Submitted||March 11, 2012|
To Whom It May Concern:
This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:
I've long heard stories that Reagan taped a small number of calls with foreign leaders during his Presidency. If any such tapes exist, I would like to request that said tapes be released for the historical record.
An example here, from a 1986 article in the Los Angeles Times:
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on March 11, 2012. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.
Thank you for your help.
Dear Mr. Delaware,
I did receive your request and I would like to clarify the procedure. The most expeditious way to have the tapes that you are interested in undergo a declassification review is to file a Mandatory Review Request. Under the Freedom of Information Act we no longer forward material to agencies for an automatic declass review. If you would like to cancel your FOIA request and initiate a Mandatory Review Request you can do so by responding to this email with the wording that you word like to cancel your FOIA request and file a Mandatory Review Request for the audio tapes from the White House Situation Room.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions.
Shelly Williams, Archivist
40 Presidential Drive
Simi Valley, CA 93065
Voice: 800-410-8354 ext. 74012
Dear Shelly Williams-
Hello! My name is Robert Delaware, and I filed a Freedom of Information request to Reagan Presidential Library, regarding any taped telephone calls that exist of President Reagan talking to foreign leaders.
I read your statement saying that the quickest way to have these tapes undergo a declassification review is to file a Mandatory Review Request for a Mandatory Declassification Review.
My response to your statement is this:
Please consider this email a combined FOIA and MDR request for the requested records. All unclassified records about this subject should be processed under FOIA. All classified records about this subject should be processed under MDR. I regret this partition, but it has become necessary due to the policy change of not referring classified records to the appropriate agencies for declassification review under FOIA.
Thank you very much, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.
My name is John Laster. I serve as a FOIA liaison for access to
Presidential records. I wanted to write you to address your two
outstanding FOIAs at the Reagan Library. I am not sure if you have yet
seen the response from Gary M Stern, NARA's General Counsel and Chief
FOIA Officer, to Patrice McDermott concerning the Listserv post in May.
(I've included the full response from Gary if you haven't seen it yet.)
First, we apologize for any confusion our response caused. The
information below explains in more detail what our current policy is, so
I won't repeat it. However, after reading that, we would like to know
how to proceed with your current FOIA request. We can treat it as a
FOIA and refer the material to the equity agency(ies) for a
declassification review. Or you can email Shelly Williams, the FOIA
coordinator at the Reagan Library, and request that your FOIA be closed
and that we proceed to review the material under the Mandatory
Declassification Review policy established under E.O. 13526. The basic
difference between a declassification review under FOIA versus MDR has
to do with appeal rights. With FOIA, once a decision is made, you can
appeal once, followed by the choice to sue for release of the material.
Under MDR, you can appeal to the Interagency Security Classification
Appeals Panel (ISCAP). Most requesters tend to choose the MDR route,
because they like the option of an ISCAP review. However, this is
completely your call. We would just ask that you email us to clarify
whether you want a declassification review under FOIA or MDR.
Second, Shelly informs me that you have a second FOIA request related
to President Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall" speech. All material
related to this topic has been processed. Shelly will send you a letter
to that effect very shortly, but I wanted to give you a heads-up that
material on the topic is already available.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me or the
Reagan Library. Again, we apologize for any confusion on our part.
In response to the Listserve post of May 15, 2012, on "National
Archives no longer forwarding FOIAs for MDR," we are writing to clarify
how NARA’s Presidential Libraries generally handle FOIA requests for
Presidential records that include classified information. The post
responded to an informal response that the Reagan Library provided to a
researcher about a specific request, which has been misunderstood.
Several years ago, Presidential Libraries that process FOIA requests
(the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton Libraries subject to the Presidential
Records Act) stopped automatically sending all classified documents
withheld under FOIA exemption (b)(1) to other agencies for
declassification review. Because NARA has no independent classification
or declassification authority, we must consult with those agencies that
control the classified information in the documents. Automatically
sending all classified records for FOIA declassification review is not
only burdensome on NARA staff, but also often results in long delays and
multi-year backlogs at the agencies.
Instead, the library staff now create withdrawal sheets for the
withheld classified records so that requesters can choose whether to
file a mandatory declassification review (MDR) request or seek a
declassification review under the existing FOIA request on the specific
records that they are truly interested in. We also inform requesters of
the differences between the appellate processes for MDR and FOIA review –
MDRs are appealed to the Interagency Security Classification Appeals
Panel (ISCAP); FOIA requests can be appealed back to the agency and can
then be subject to judicial review.
We believe that this approach is in the best interests of our
requesters, based on our long experience in this area. Since this
change, almost all Presidential Library requestors now choose to file
MDR requests rather than continue with the FOIA process.
NARA is always trying to refine and improve our responsiveness to FOIA
requests. We try to communicate directly with the requesters, and
encourage them to contact us if they have any questions or concerns
about what we are saying or doing. We will also continuously evaluate
whether this approach is effective or can be improved upon. We
apologize for any confusion we may have caused.
Gary M. Stern
General Counsel and Chief FOIA Officer
National Archive and Records Administration
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