Vince Wade

I filed a FOIA request with the FBI regarding several major Detroit drug dealers who were prosecuted and pleaded guilty in the late 1980s. They’ve served their time and are out. I requested all documents, photos and wiretap audio turned over to defense attorneys as pre-trial discovery material. I noted FBI “minimization” regulations require pausing recordings for intervals if the wiretap subjects discuss personal matters. Thus, there shouldn’t be a “privacy” issue in the material gathered for prosecution. My FOIA requests were still denied for “privacy reasons.” Stories about these guys were in the local papers often. I’m new to federal FOIA submissions and I missed the appeal deadline. I have since read some possible rebuttals on MuckRock and other sites. These are closed criminal investigations, closed for nearly 30 years. Any suggestions re: late (deadline) appeals and countering the privacy denial generally? Also, would OGIS be of any help? It sounds like it is more show than go.

Jack R-W

Generally, you will not be able to get FBI files regarding people who are alive. You can either wait until they die, as they will lose most of their privacy rights, or get them to sign a waiver allowing you to get the file. You can, however, request records regarding events. I’ve found in the past that it’s much easier to request records without mentioning names at all.

Vince Wade

Thanks. I was aware of the deceased option. These dopers are still alive. The chances of getting privacy waivers are less than zero. Events is an interesting angle but they were sent away for a continuing series of dope deals, not a single event like Ferguson, Mo. so I’ll have to think about that one.

Jack R-W

If anybody involved in the case is dead, that would be a good angle. You (with basic knowledge of the events) could probably work past the redactions.

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