Defense Intelligence Agency officials seem intent on making things difficult for anyone trying to follow through on a Freedom of Information Act request.
On July 6, I submitted a list of 18 questions to DIA PAOs. In reply, Army LTC Thomas F. Veale did not immediately provide answers to my questions; instead, he replied three days later with several questions for me. I answered his questions, all of which centered on my upcoming second nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO. Details about his questions can be found in this post.
On July 13, Colonel Veale delivered a response: “Given the depth of detail of your project and my understanding of DoD’s standard procedure for detailed book queries, I believe you should complete the book project support process.”
After suspecting that the “book project support” option would turn into another round of stonewalling similar to the 100-days-long experience I’ve had with the Army, I decided to take an alternative route suggested by Colonel Veale: FOIA. With the FOIA route, I felt as if I had a sliver of hope that DIA officials might comply with federal laws.
This afternoon, I visited the DIA website’s FOIA instructions page, read through the instructions and opted to use the PDF form option — which, by the way, requires you to fill in the blanks and print out your document rather than allow you to save it as a file that can be emailed easily.
After typing in my pertinent information in the PDF blanks, I printed out the newly-created two-page document and tried to fax it to the DIA fax number provided on the DIA instructions page. Unfortunately, two attempts yielded nothing but ring tones. It was as if the DIA fax number refused to recognize my fax machine’s cry, “ANSWER ME!”
My final option was to scan the two-page document I had already printed out and forward the new document to the DIA email address, FOIA@dodiis.mil, provided on the DIA instructions page. I did that, but with much trepidation — and with good cause: One minute after sending the document to DIA as an attachment to an email message, I received three “failure” notices. It appears as if only one of the four recipients to whom my FOIA request was addressed received my message. We’ll see how this turns out. Perhaps a change of command at DIA will help. More on this later.
UPDATE ON MY ARMY FOIA EXPERIENCE
Just before 4 p.m. Central today, I received an email update from Nancy Davis regarding the Army FOIA experience mentioned above and in previous posts like this one.
The woman whose business card must be the size of a billboard because of the length of her title (i.e., “Installation Records Management/FOIA-PA, Directorate of Human Resources, Office of the Adjutant General, U.S. Army Garrison, Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, KS”) emailed the following update: “We are continuing to wait on the (Staff Judge Advocate’s) review and opinion. As soon as we have it, it is ready to go to the (Army Training & Doctrine Command) Initial Denial Authority. I have CC’ed Ms. Kakel on this email and she is standing by to receive it. Thanks.”
Upon reading her message, I fired back a question: “I might be mistaken, but doesn’t the phrase, Initial Denial Authority, tell me all I need to know?”
A few minutes later, Davis offered this polite response: “No. The role of the IDA is to review any recommended redactions, to reason how best to make a release of information and to work with the HQDA Office of the Judge Advocate in the explanation of why agencies are concerned when their information may be released. It is the HQDA Office of the Judge Advocate that has the final decision. I hope this helps.”
NINETY-SEVEN DAYS after submitting my FOIA request to the Army, my confidence is bubbling over (NOT)! More on this subject later, too!
UPDATE 7/17/12 at 9:53 a.m. Central: A third attempt at sending the FOIA request to DIA via fax succeeded. Now, we wait for answers.
UPDATE 7/20/12 at 11:14 a.m. Central: A few minutes ago, I tried contacting two DIA PAOs with whom I’ve been communicating via email. My emails bounced back. Twice. Additionally, my emails to the email address listed on the DIA FOIA website bounced back. For some reason, I don’t think I’m going to be getting anything from DIA without filing a federal lawsuit.
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In my soon-to-be-published second nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, I’ll expose never-before-published details of my investigation into the “green-on-blue” attacks and other matters related to the interrogation technologies now being used — and, in some cases, not used — by U.S. military and intelligence officials around the world for things such as vetting detainees, enemy combatants and third-country nationals.
The product of more than three years of painstaking investigation, dozens of interviews and a whole lot of FOIA requests, The CLAPPER MEMO goes so far as to connect the dots between a single memo signed by James R. Clapper Jr., the man now serving as our nation’s top intelligence official, and the green-on-blue deaths of dozens of Americans in Afghanistan since that memo was issued.
While you await the release of THE CLAPPER MEMO, be sure to order a copy of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice. It’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. Thanks in advance!