Michael Morisy

Do you have an example FBI FOIA request letter that can be used as a FOIA template when requesting FBI documents?

Michael Morisy

We’ve published the full text of hundred of successful FBI FOIA request templates you can copy and use as suit your needs. In addition, Ryan Shapiro has offered some very good advice on requesting documents from the FBI.

By default, the FBI just searches its central indices.

Shapiro recommends that FOIA letters to the FBI also ask that the agency search:

  • any “cross-referenced” records relevant to your inquiry.
  • “ELSUR” (Electronic Surveillance) records. These include the names of all people and/or locations for which the agency sought a court order for electronic surveillance.

In addition, a recent court case suggested that the FBI will also search, if asked in a FOIA letter, the Sentinel database, the Investigative Data Warehouse, and the Data Integration and Visualization System.

Finally, journalist Seth Rosenfeld has a lot of experience filing with the FBI. The below text is copied from one of his requests, and modified slightly as to make it more generic. I do not endorse using this language for every request, as it could potentially slow down processing times if a less exhaustive search would produce the results you need, but it could be useful for modifying to fit a FBI FOIA template that fits your own needs:

This request is for any and all records at any and all FBI offices, including HQ, field offices, legal attaches, and facilities that maintain records under the FBI’s control.

Please search for any and all records concerning the subject, including but not limited to the following:

a) main file and main file equivalents, including all administrative and appendix pages.

b) see references. For each see reference, please release all pages of any see reference, including all administrative and appendix pages.

c) Do Note File records

d) channelized records

e) search records, including search records of any kind used to process this request

f) ELSUR records

g) index cards

h) records that are or were maintained in SAC safes

i) bulky exhibits

j) abstract records

k) “JUNE” mail

Please understand that I am requesting any and all records concerning the subject in any way, including but not limited to those listed in the General Index and any and all other indexes.

I want all records identifiable with my request, even though reports based on those records may have been sent to FBI headquarters or other FBI offices, and even though there may be duplication between sets of files.

Please produce all records with their administrative markings intact, and all reports, memos and documents to include any and all administrative pages.

In excising material, please black out rather than white out or cut out material.

For your further reference, please note that records responsive to this request may include information concerning other people are deceased and/or public figures. In that case, the law requires greater disclosure of this information

[Names here] are among the the deceased persons who likely appear in the requested records.