Monday, February 23, 2009


It's done. I sent the appeal letter off in the mail today. It's 12 pages long with another 30 or so pages in enclosures. Maybe once I get the next response back, I'll post some of the appeal letter for grins and giggles. 

I can't help but picture a government automaton seated in a bleak gray office stamping REJECT on all of the FOIA letters that come across the desk, my latest in particular. I don't hold out much hope that my appeal letter will overturn the initial response of neither confirming nor denying the existence or non-existence of the material I seek.

Which, by the way, I haven't exactly divulged what it is that I am seeking.

I requested two audio recordings and/or segregable portions of otherwise exempt material (in other words, transcripts). Specifically, I filed an FOI request with the National Security Agency for an audio recording of the October 9, 2003 satellite phone call that Kirk von Ackermann placed to the Iraqi employee in which he asked for assistance with the flat tire. The second audio recording I requested was one from the previous day in which he left a message on his home answering machine in the United States - that he had arrived safely at a base in Iraq.

The significance of the second recording is that it's what triggered the recording of the first - if statements by public officials are to be believed. The content of neither phone call warrants classification. And as both intercepts are the result of the NSA program revealed by the President, the Attorney General and the Director of the National Security Agency, it's a bit silly to pretend recordings of the intercepts don't exist.

But the NSA will. And an automaton will stamp my letter: REJECT.

Do you think they even bother to read the letters or do they stamp first and then just pretend to read the letters?

1 comment:

Susie Dow said...

Marcie Wheeler (emptywheel) has a post up today on various forms of classified communications that I thought might be useful to reference here. The post is a background look at communications sought in the defense of David A. Passaro, a CIA contractor convicted of prisoner abuse.

“High Side” Cables and FOIA Responses April 8, 2010

Excerpt from Supplemental Motion to Compel in the case of USA vs David A. Passaro:

The audio recordings and/or text documentation of the contents of satellite phone calls related to the events which prompted Wali’s surrender; his subsequent intake, detention, and questioning; his death; and all investigations into these events. Counsel for Mr. Passaro has learned that CIA operatives and contractors, members of Special Operations forces, and military intelligence unites, and members of other governmental agencies (OGA) frequently used satellite phones to communicate from this region of Afghanistan, and that the government maintains voice recordings of all satellite phone calls;