|Submitted||Feb. 3, 2015|
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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:
All of the investigative documents and related correspondence files pertaining to L. Ron Hubbard (March 13, 1911 - January 24, 1986), the Founding Church of Scientology and a Scientology-related front group promoted as the "National Association of American Psychology." Specifically, I am seeking the investigation files stemming from an incident where Vice President Richard Nixon was courted for his endorsement under false pretenses and requested further action by the Secret Service. See: http://tonyortega.org/2015/02/03/when-richard-nixon-ordered-the-secret-service-to-investigate-scientology/
The existence of this material was recently disclosed, in full with no redaction, from a Food and Drug Administration FOIA release (FDA Reference No. 2015-158) where it noted the files I am requesting was initiated by the office of the Vice President on February 21, 1958. This Secret Service investigation was then closed on an unknown date, filed as number "CO-2-22,825" and was classed as a "protective research file" as shown on the FDA disclosure here: https://www.scribd.com/doc/254547136/FDA-FOIA-release-Nixon
Proof of death on L. Ron Hubbard is not required as it was widely reported: http://www.nytimes.com/1986/01/29/obituaries/l-ron-hubbard-dies-of-stroke-founder-of-church-of-scientology.html
If the classification of "protective research file" would typically limit disclosure of these documents, then I respectfully request intra-agency consideration in regards to declassification of this material. Other documentation released in the FDA FOIA request mentioned above indicates that the Secret Service investigation files were openly shared with the FDA, IRS, US Postal Service and possibly the FBI for use in other government investigations that have been subjected to extensive litigation and FOIA disclosures. See: https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/fda-files-on-scientology-electrometer-or-e-meter-15332/
I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest due to the numerous government agency investigations of the Scientology organizations during the 1950-60s and nearly two dozen contentious, widely-cited FOIA lawsuits spanning these two decades that have also been widely reported: http://www.newspapers.com/clip/1581436/church_of_scientology_answers_false/ AND http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,919130,00.html
Moreover, the specific materials I am seeking are relevant to public interest because of the FOIA litigation precedent set in US District Court of DC regarding the release of these files from the US Secret Service and other agencies. See Scientology v. William E. Simon et al (Civ. No. 76-1719) http://www.leagle.com/decision/19771540433FSupp1107_11367
Additionally, 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.
Ms. R. M. Seibert
Please see the attached letter regarding your FOIA/PA requests. If you have any questions or would like to discuss this matter, please contact this office at (202) 406-5838.
United States Secret Service
All e-mail to/from this account is subject to official review and is for official use only. Action may be taken in response to any inappropriate use of the Secret Service's e-mail system. This e-mail may contain information that is privileged, law enforcement sensitive, or subject to other disclosure limitations. Such information is loaned to you and should not be further disseminated without the permission of the Secret Service. If you have received this e-mail in error, do not keep, use, disclose, or copy it; notify the sender immediately and delete it.
To Whom It May Concern:
This is an appeal of an adverse determination under the Freedom of Information Act dated February 10, 2015 for FOIA File Number 20150457.
This appeal concerns the rejection of a fee waiver and also my classification as a commercial requester.
As stated in paragraphs six through eight of my original request letter where I asked that the fees be waived, there are multiple reasons why disclosure of the information is in the public interest. First, the public interest aspect of these documents has already been acknowledged by the Church of Scientology and IRS as part of their closing agreement, which agreement (seen here http://bit.ly/1DZl8ca ) was predicated on, in large part, litigation brought by individual Scientologists to compel production of the same documents sought here. As stated therein:
“WHEREAS, the Church signatories and individual Scientologists have initiated, supported and/or otherwise participated in litigation under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to compel the Service to disclose information withheld by the Service in response to FOIA requests about its treatment of Scientologists and Churches of Scientology (hereinafter ‘FOIA litigation’);”
If the documents sought there (and here) held no interest to the general public, there would be no basis for the IRS to settle with the Church of Scientology.
Second, the secret nature of that agreement, later published in the Wall Street Journal on December 30 1997, compounds the public interest component. The conditions by which a government agency and a religious organization settle a long-running dispute over FOIA requests made by the same religious entity speaks naturally and quite directly to the public interest, as was borne out in subsequent articles, television programs, and documentaries speaking to the topic of the IRS's particular treatment of the Church of Scientology.
Finally, my FOIA request concerns the topic of FOIA requests--how and why they are successful, or how and why they are not. Fulfillment of my request contributes directly to the public understanding of the operations and activities of the government.
With respect to the denial of my fee waiver on the basis that I am a commercial requester, this is simply not accurate. I have no commercial interest in these documents whatsoever, as my strictly stated intent is to gather, release, and discuss subject matter in the public interest for further independent research and newsgathering purposes. As such, I am using the public domain publishing service at Muckrock.com because it furthers my stated intent. Muckrock.com is strictly a non-commercial service dedicated for expanding the public’s knowledge on the FOIA-related issues I am pursuing as an independent researcher.
MuckRock's mission statement (seen here https://www.muckrock.com/about/ ) makes it abundantly clear that it is a newsgathering entity, not a commercial entity. As stated therein:
“MuckRock's unique form of investigative and accountability journalism has been recognized by the Sunlight Foundation, The Freedom of the Press Foundation, and hundreds of local and national news outlets for its groundbreaking work in areas such as government spending, surveillance, and public safety.
“In addition, MuckRock works with journalists to help conceive, pursue, and publish original stories on issues that matter with exclusive primary materials obtained via public records law.”
In sum, (1) I have clearly showed that my request, if met, would "contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government," and (2) the determination that I am a commercial entity was in error. Therefore, I have met the statutory requirements of 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii) for a fee waiver, and hereby appeal.
Ms. R. M. Seibert
A no responsive documents response.