FBI records destroyed or sent to NARA
A few months ago, I submitted a FOIA request seeking records related to anti-apartheid activist Dennis Brutus. I just got this response from the FBI, stating two reasons why they are closing my case:
Records potentially responsive to your request were destroyed. Since this material could not be reviewed, it is not known if it was responsive to your request. Record retention and disposal is carried out under supervision of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) according to Title 44 United States Code Section 3301, Title 36 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Chapter 12 Sub-chapter B Part 1228, and 36 CFR 1229.10. Please be advised that the General Records Schedule (GRS) disposition authority for FOIPA records is DAA-GRS-2016-0002-0001 (GRS 4.2, Item 020).
Records potentially responsive to your request were transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). If you wish to review these records, send your request to NARA at the following address: National Archives and Records Administration 8601 Adelphi Road College Park, MD 20740-6001 Use file number 157-HQ-24813 Serial 501 and 509, 157-HQ-33704 Serial 1 and 2, 157-HQ-34994 Serial 1, 157-WF-4690 Serial 186, 100-CG-37958 Serial 260, 100-CG-356635 Serial 1B3 and 1B1, 157-CG-5377 Serial 1B as a reference.
Anyone have any insight whether it’s worth appealing this, and if so how? For reference, the request at issue is at https://www.muckrock.com/foi/united-states-of-america-10/dennis-brutus-70103/
Hi, Nicholas— I file a lot of requests with FBI, and I get these destroyed and/or transferred responses regularly. I see you appealed the fact that they didn’t send documentation of the destruction or the transfers to NARA, which is great. Also, anytime you don’t receive records, you can say something generic like, “I question the thoroughness of the search,” which very occasionally shakes something loose.
The only other sliver of hope is to file another request specifically for cross-references and supply additional info. I noticed you mentioned cross-references in your request, but the secret is that FBI won’t actually search for those unless you give them additional info (for example, people and organizations that Brutus was involved with that might have files of their own). They explain it in the blue box near the bottom of this page:
Thanks so much, Russ!