William & Mary Petraeus correspondence

J.K. Trotter filed this request with the College of William & Mary of Virginia.


From: J.K. Trotter

To Whom It May Concern:

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

Any and all correspondence, written or electronic, dated between November 9 2012 and November 4 2013, between officials, employees, and/or staff members at the the College of William & Mary and David Petraeus or his representative Robert Barnett.

I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as I believe this request is in the public interest. 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 5 business days, as the statute requires.


J.K. Trotter

From: Stevens, Lillian H

Dear J.K. Trotter:

This is to acknowledge your request dated November 4, 2013, for information pursuant to the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. Virginia FOIA, § 2.2-3704(A), states that access to certain record shall not be denied to “citizens of the Commonwealth, representatives of newspapers and magazines with circulation in the Commonwealth, and representatives of radio and television stations broadcasting in or into the Commonwealth.”

I have researched your website using the URL you provided in your letter (www.MuckRock.com), specifically, the verbiage below:

“At MuckRock, we are dedicated to wading through the muck so you don’t. What does this mean for you? Less time spent mitigating complex bureaucratic processes so that you can focus on analyzing and reporting on the issues that matter most to you and your organization or business. As the only public records request service of its kind in the United States, MuckRock serves journalists, researchers, activists and historians, with a track record of over 2,000 requests. Simply login to your account and submit your FOI request via our simple web-interface. MuckRock acts as a request proxy, e-mailing, faxing or even snail mailing the request on your behalf. Documents are sent to our offices to be prepared by our team of experts for your convenience. We can even assist with analyzing your data. Our intuitive system ensures that your documents are for your eyes only until you're ready to publish.”

It appears that your company does not meet the media/press test outlined by VA FOIA. Therefore, since you are not a citizen of the Commonwealth, and since MuckRock appears to us to be a service provider as opposed to a newspaper, magazine, radio or television station, we will exercise our option to deny your request.

In closing, please note that a request like yours – even if it came from a Virginia resident or a member of the media with circulation or reach into Virginia – would require significant streamlining to meet the “reasonable specificity” test provided by FOIA. A search to produce “copies of all correspondence between November 9, 2012 and November 40, 2013 between employees of the College and David Patraeus or Robert Barnet” would be very broad in scope. In an enterprise the size and complexity of W&M, responsive documents could be found in any – or none – of thousands of places. This means that a requestor of such information would have to shoulder the cost of time to produce this correspondence, whether or not it exists.


Lillian Stevens
FOIA Officer
College of William & Mary


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