Michael Morisy

Hrahhrah recently netted an interesting NSA contract with a French hacking firm, with very few redactions.

What was redacted, however, was the total value of the contract. Usually I’ve found expenses to be one of the most FOIA-able things, but they cited exemption (b)(4). Reading through the DoJ guide, it seems like that’s actually a defensible argument, which is a bit crazy to me.

Any advice on appeal strategies? She’s hoping to push back a little on the contract value redaction. I wrote the below, but it’s pretty weak at the moment.

Thanks for any tips.

I would like to appeal certain redactions on Request 74643. I believe that the information was erroneously redacted, and should have been disclosed.

On page 2 of the released documents, three-quarters of the way down the page under section 26, “Total Award Amount,” the amount of the contract is redacted entirely, citing exemption (b)(4).

I believe that this information should be disclosed:

— How tax dollars are spent is, naturally, clearly in the public interest. — Recent heightened public interest in various NSA contractors has increased the public interest argument for disclosure of price information, as it is one of the key tools to measure accountability and value in national security spending. — The contractor’s work-product (vulnerability reports) is unique and thus pricing information does not directly benefit its competitors.

Thank you for your consideration of this appeal.

Shawn Musgrave

Having a few examples where this information was not redacted is also helpful. 

For instance, I’ve seen plenty of NSA contracts where the amount was not redacted. See this contract with Narus, for example. 

It helps to demonstrate to the FOIA officer that others at the agency in question have released this information. 

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