What to do with Exemption 3 on Arms Export Control Act from NASA
Hi. I have been working on a request relating to the Computer Command Subsytem (CCS) of the Voyager 1&2 spacecraft. I got denied on the grounds of an exemption 3 citing the Arms Export Control Act. However, all that law is about is exporting weapons/info across national borders. I’ll acknowledge that if they were to give me the CCS info, they have no idea where it will go. But, they each have 69.63 kilobytes of memory on board, which is saved on 8-track tape. It operates at a rate of 80,000 instructions per second, while a modern processor runs at at least 1 million per second. Therefore, given the age and “outdateness” how should I argue for the release of the documents?
You can appeal the request without arguing anything. That will be the best in this situation.
I’ve actually already done that.
We carefully reviewed your submission of information, and we understand that you made a request to NASA for specific records related to the Viking Orbiter 1975. NASA withheld the records responsive to your request in full pursuant to FOIA Exemptions 3 and 6, 5 U.S.C. §§ 552(b)(3) and (b)(6). You appealed that response, and NASA upheld its initial determination on your request. You ask for OGIS’s assistance with this matter.
In response to your submission, we contacted NASA’s FOIA office to discuss the agency’s response to your request. NASA FOIA staff affirmed the agency’s position on the records you seek. In cases such as this where an agency is firm in its position, there is little for OGIS to do beyond providing more information about the agency’s actions.
Regarding NASA’s use of FOIA Exemption 3, this exemption authorizes the withholding of agency records on subject matter exempt from disclosure by statute, provided that such statute, “requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue, or establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to the types of material to be withheld.” In this case, 22 U.S.C. § 2751 applies. We discussed the application of this statute with NASA’s FOIA staff, and the agency declined to provide any additional information other than referring OGIS staff to its final response and confirming its decision in this matter. I hope you find this information useful in understanding why NASA withheld the material it did in response to your request. At this time, there is no further assistance OGIS can offer. Thank you for bringing this matter to OGIS. We will close your case.
This is from OGIS
After your appeal is denied, I believe the next step is litigation.