Presentation by Tom Nash of Muckrock on making public records requests to research drone surveillance and warfare, in webinar sponsored by Fellowship of Reconciliation. See: http://forusa.org/militarism-watch
Intelligence and defense agencies are subject to FOIA, but they make the rules. For the CIA, everything regarding its operations or analysis is classified for 50 years, at which point it can be reviewed for disclosure. Defense Department will give out information not directly related to national security, but obviously that's most of what it does.
Note privacy is gone when you die.
Instead of tracking down contact information and the language needed for a request, we do all that for you.
Drones Webinar Tom Nash 20 Nov 2012
Drones andPublic Recordswhat to look for / how to get it MuckRock
FOIA- Enacted July 4, 1966 byLBJ- Everything that isntexempted is open, but...- Privacy, secrecyexemptions- White House andCongress are exempt
RedactionsSecretive agencies are usually secretive. Redactions are common in mostdocuments from the Department of Defense and CIA, if they give anything at all
FOIA is not optional- Agencies have 20 business days to reply.- They’re able to charge for search fees andduplication unless they miss that 20 daywindow without prior warning.
What about state laws?- They are mostly in line with theFreedom of Information Act- Generally more expensive,quicker- Applies to all localities within state
What does this mean for drone research?Documents available rangefrom Federal AviationAdministration drone usageauthorizations all the waydown to local sheriffdepartment budgets.
MuckRock- Until very recently, the government didnot even pretend to care about usingthe power of the Web to give access toinformation.- FOIA is the law, and agenciesresponsiveness was not trackable.- Were here to help everyone getaccess to FOIA and hold government
Tracking progress- Acknowledgment letter usually followed by feeestimate or request for clarification- Process can take from one day to years- Each jurisdiction/agency is trackable One days mail
Results-Download from our site, share- MuckRock hoststhousands ofpages ofgovernmentdocuments
Drones and FOIAThere are (basically) two angles to FOIAingdrone usage:-Domestic usage-Foreign usage
Census- MuckRock has filed 204 requests to federal,state and local government agencies abouttheir use or proposed use of drones.- 70 came from an authorized agency list EFFreceived from the FAA.- 134 leads came from MuckRock users.
The requestWe asked for:- Proposals put forward involving drones- Any records concerning the use of drones- Policies, guidelines, manuals about use ofdrones and images taken from them- Technical capabilities of drones in use
What weve received Of the 204 requests: - 67 are awaiting response - 85 agencies said they have no responsive documents - 20 have sent responsive documents
Where theres trouble -10 agencies rejected the request on a variety of grounds - 11 require payment, ranging from $115,000.00 requested by Georgia Tech to Nicholls State University wanting $13. -Negotiation is possible (narrowing request, digital copies)
Drones abroad- Secrecy dominates- Direct acknowledgment would be a huge stepforward- FOIA is an opportunity to call attention to thesecrecy
FOIA for Civilian Deaths "Any documents estimating the number ofcivilians killed by unarmed aerial vehicle (UAV),unarmed aerial system (UAS), or drone strikesin Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, the Philippines,or any other country where the United Stateshas carried out strikes of this kind."
So far:CIA: Will neither confirm nor deny having theinformation.State Department: WaitingCentCom: Waiting
I want to file a request about drone use- What is the most local agency somehowconnected to the request?(A drone manufacturer wants to take over anold airfield. They may need to work it out withTown Hall -- public documents)- Check available databases: FAAauthorizations being the most important, EFF,Document Cloud, MuckRock
FOIA and Advocacy- Appeal exemptions- Publicize government stonewalling- Lobby lawmakers for less restrictive FOIA law- There are groups who can help: NFOIC
More about MuckRock- Will launch in all 50 states(plus DC) by January- Five requests cost $20-Except for our Drone Census,which is freeTwitter: @MuckRockNews