FOIA’ing the FBI

Well, today I’m getting my FOIA requests in order, one of which is being sent to the FBI. They’re the government agency crowned with George Washington University’s National Security Archive’s “Rosemary Awards” this past March for “outstandingly bad responsiveness to the public that flouts the letter and spirit of the Freedom of Information Act” (FOIA).  The press release about it is here.

I guess it really shouldn’t be too much of a surprise- I mean, look at how their website looks, using Safari as a browser on a Mac.

Picture 1

Here’s the Attorney General’s memo that tells the FBI to shape up. Unfortunately, there’s no deadline. It sort of seems to be lip service to Obama’s January 21st mention of FOIA failure… and just this month, The FOIA Blog reported that U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the FBI’s FOIA search system was still “devoid of the necessary elements” set forth by FOIA case law standards.

It makes me shudder to think that their agency is worse than the Department of State, who have been sitting on a bunch of my requests for over a year now. History of Phone Phreaking has a nice breakdown of how the FBI filing systems work- and how to interpret  your documents, that is, if you ever get them.

At your wits’ end? Calling FOIA officers and establishing relationships with them is super useful. I haven’t done this yet with the FBI, but it’s worked well with the DOS.

FOIPA Public Information Officer (PIO)
David P. Sobonya
Phone: (540) 868-4593
Fax: (540) 868-4995
Please call this number to talk with the PIO about the status of an existing FOI/PA request, or other FOIPA matters. Our PIO cannot answer questions about Name Check requests, all calls received for Name Check information will be referred to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
FOIPA Public Liaison Officer (PLO)
Dennis J. Argall
(540) 868-4516
Please call the PLO number if you have concerns about information received about the FOIPA after contacting either the RSC or the PIO.

Wanna know if the feds have a file on you? You can FOIA your own FBI records here– or those of your family members.

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