|Feb. 21, 2017
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To Whom It May Concern:
This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:
Copies of written requests (whether issued internally, by other Agencies or Congress) for investigations or reports relating to Donald J. Trump , his campaign or his Presidential Transition Team from January 1, 2015 through January 19, 2017. Please interpret this FOIA to include requests for comments on other reports or investigations. Note that I am not asking for responses to these requests, or details about the existence or non-existence of any such investigations.
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.
A fix is required to perfect the request.
A fix is required to perfect the request.
My request was more than clear, and case law also specifies that I need only provide sufficient information for searchers to identify whether a given document was responsive or not. The request itself was more than specific enough to enable a search by someone familiar with these matters (i.e. liaison officers, CI chiefs, search of communications, etc.)
Dear Michael Best,
This is reference to your fax received on March 14, 2017. I checked the status of this case and it was closed on February 27, 2017. You were informed of this in the letter that was sent to you on that date. If you wish to obtain records from the U.S. Department of State you will need to submit a new request. When you do a new case number will be generated.
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. Please be sure to include a current mailing address in your new request.
Please reference the old case number in your new request in case the team reviewing the material needs to access information from the old case file. Before you submit a new request please read the instructions and pay particular attention to the "Checklist for Personal Records" and the "Certification of Identity".
How to make a request for Personal Records:
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 email to email@example.com<mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>.
U.S. Department of State
FOIA Requester Service Center
Official - Transitory
For the record, your letter is clearly dated on the 28th. I misread that you had closed the case, however, and attempted to respond directly to your office in the hopes that you would correct the error. I see now that I was mistaken, and so I have appealed the matter.
I am appealing the decision that the request was not specific or clear enough. My request was more than clear, and case law also specifies that I need only provide sufficient information for searchers to identify whether a given document was responsive or not. The request itself was more than specific enough to enable a search by someone familiar with these matters (i.e. liaison officers, CI chiefs, search of communications, etc.)
A letter stating that the request appeal has been received and is being processed.