A couple of months ago, I sent the CIA a FOIA request, for a screen shot of their intranet home page. I was simply curious: what does your average CIA employee see every day, when they log on to the agency’s internal intranet. The CIA denied my request, and I filed an appeal:
July 25, 2014
Information and Privacy Coordinator
Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, D.C. 20505
I’m writing in regard to FOIA request F-2014-01696, a request for a screenshot of the CIA intranet home page. Your office responded to my request on July 9, 2014, denying my request in its entirety. I would like to appeal your response to the Agency Release Panel.
Your denial was based on exemption b(3) — exemption based on statue — and cited 50 USC Section 403g and Section 102A(i)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947. I believe that neither statute applies to my request.
The University of Cornell’s law library tells me that 50 USC Section 403g was editorially reclassified as 50 USC Section 3507. 50 USC Section 3507 reads as follows:
In the interests of the security of the foreign intelligence activities of the United States and in order further to implement section 403-1(i) of this title that the Director of National Intelligence shall be responsible for protecting intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure, the Agency shall be exempted from the provisions of sections 1 and 2 of the Act of August 28, 1935 (49 Stat. 956, 957; 5 U.S.C. 654), and the provisions of any other law which require the publication or disclosure of the organization, functions, names, official titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed by the Agency: Provided, That in furtherance of this section, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget shall make no reports to the Congress in connection with the Agency under section 607 of the Act of June 30, 1945, as amended (5 U.S.C. 947(b)).
This statue exempts publication or disclosure of the organization, functions, names, official titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed by the Agency. I have not requested information about the organization, functions, names, official titles, salaries, or numbers of personnel employed by the Agency. Rather, I have requested a screenshot of the CIA’s intranet home page. If the CIA’s intranet home page contains this kind of human resource information, I believe that a screenshot could be redacted, without having to deny my request in its entirety.
Section 102A(i)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947 states:
(i) PROTECTION OF INTELLIGENCE SOURCES AND METHODS.–(1) The Director of National Intelligence shall protect intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure.
Again, I have requested a screenshot of the CIA’s intranet home page. I am not asking the Agency to disclose its intelligence sources, nor am I asking the Agency to disclose its methods. If the CIA’s intranet home page makes reference to Agency sources or methods, I believe such references could be redacted, without having to deny my request in its entirety.
In short, I’d simply like to see the intranet page that your average CIA employee sees when they get to work, and sit down at their computer.
As stated in my initial request, I am requesting this information for personal (and not commercial) use, and I would like to be notified if the processing fees for my request will exceed $10.00. I would prefer to receive responsive documents via email to steve@…, but paper copy is also acceptable.
Thank you for your time and attention.
The CIA responded to my appeal on 20 August 2014, and I thought it was a very positive response.
20 August 2014
Dear Mr Revilak:
The office of the Information and Privacy Coordinator received your 25 July 2014 administrative appeal for a screenshot of the CIA intranet home page. Please continue to use this case reference number so that we can more easily identify your FOIA administrative appeal.
You are appealing our denial of material responsive to your original request. Your appeal has been accepted and arrangements are being made for its consideration by the Agency Release Panel.
You will be advised of the panel’s determination. In order to afford requesters the most equitable treatment possible, we have adopted the policy of handling appeals on a first-received, first-out basis. Despite our best efforts, however, the large number of public access requests CIA receives creates processing delays making it unlikely that we can respond to you within 20 working days. In view of this, some delay in our reply must be expected, but every reasonable effort will be made to respond as soon as possible.
Information and Privacy Coordinator
I thought this was great news, until I got the Agency Release Panel’s final decision:
25 September 2014
Dear Mr. Revilak:
This is a final response to your 25 July 2014 administrative appeal under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which was processed under the referenced case identification number by the office of the Information and Privacy Coordinator. As a reminder, you appealed our denial of material responsive to your original request.
The Agency Release Panel considered your petition and fully denied your administrative appeal in accordance with Agency regulations set forth in Part 1900 of Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations. In reaching this determination to reaffirm CIA’s initial-level processing of this request, the Agency Release Panel concluded that the document denied in its entirety must continue to be protected from release on the basis of FOIA exemption (b)(3). Exemption (b)(3) pertains to information exempt from disclosure by statute. The relevant statutes are Section 6 of the Central Intelligence Agency Act of 1949 and section 102A(i)(l) of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended. As the panel’s Executive Secretary, I am the CIA official responsible for informing you of the appellate determination.
In accordance with the provisions of the FOIA, you have the right to seek judicial review of this determination in a United States district court. Alternatively, the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) offers mediation services to resolve disputes between FOIA requesters and federal agencies. Using services offered by OGIS does not affect your right to pursue litigation. For more information, including how to contact OGIS, please consult its website, http://ogis/archives.gov.
Agency Release Panel
I’d disappointed in the Panel’s decision. At the very least, I was hoping to get a screen shot with a couple of redactions, perhaps something like this:
I suppose it’s time to look into the OGIS appeal process.
For the open government buffs out there, here’s a pdf of my correspondence with the CIA: cia-intranet-foia