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Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

The Ten Oldest Pending FOIA Requests

The National Security Archive
Freedom of Information Act Audit

 
Press Release
Executive Summary
The Ten Oldest FOIA Requests in the Federal Government
Chart - Agency Response Times
Table - Oldest Outstanding FOIA Requests
Methodology
Findings Regarding The Ten Oldest FOIA Requests and FOIA Backlogs
Summary Discussion of Individual Agencies
Update on Phase One: The Ashcroft Memorandum
FOIA Audit Phase One: The Ashcroft Memo

 

 

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THE TEN OLDEST FOIA REQUESTS IN THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

The requests included in this Audit Report are those that the agencies themselves have identified as their ten oldest "currently being processed or held pending coordination with other agencies." (Note 1)

  • November 9, 1987 Request to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concerning Seth Rosenfeld's research into FBI activities at the University of California. Mr. Rosenfeld initiated three lawsuits in support of his FOIA request and ultimately settled with the Bureau in 1996. The Bureau then released approximately 200,000 pages of records, but still refused to release several categories of requested records. The records dramatically chronicle unlawful FBI intelligence activities and the efforts to cover up such conduct. In June 2002, after the San Francisco Chronicle ran an extensive story describing the FOIA battle, Senator Diane Feinstein inquired about the Bureau's failure to complete processing of the FOIA requests. The Bureau has acknowledged that there are at least 17,000 pages of records that still have not been produced.
  • 1989 [original date obscured] Request to the Secretary of Defense seeking information regarding the Freedom of Navigation program established in 1975 to protect traditional navigation rights from encroachment. This request was filed by then-graduate student William Aceves, who is periodically contacted by the Department of Defense to determine if he continues to be interested in the records that he requested. Now a full professor at California Western School of Law, Professor Aceves says he remains interested.
  • March 1989 [original date obscured] Request to the Department of State. This request was referred by the Department of State to the Department of Defense, which it provided as one of its Ten Oldest FOIA Requests. Seeks information regarding the Freedom of Navigation program. This request also was filed by Professor Aceves, as noted above.
  • March 23, 1989 Correspondence with the Department of Defense Politico-Military Policy and Current Plans Division. Appears to be follow-up correspondence to a request to the Department of Navy, and appears to have been referred by the Navy to the Department of Defense. Seeks information regarding the Freedom of Navigation program. This request also was filed by Professor Aceves, as noted above.
  • October 5, 1989 Request to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). This request apparently was referred to the Department of the Army Intelligence and Security Command and was produced by the Intelligence and Security Command as one of its Ten Oldest FOIA Requests. It is unclear from the request when it was referred and whether the CIA is responsible for some of the delay associated with completion of a response to the request. Request seeks "any finished intelligence assessments or other documents regarding the political, economic, military, and/or social situation within Iran during the years 1973 through 1978." The request was filed by the then-Washington Editor of The Nation.
  • October 20, 1989 Request to the Central Intelligence Agency for "records and correspondence pertaining to James Howard Guerin, born 6/9/30 in Morristown, N.J.; his former company, International Signal & Control Corp., London-based Electronics Systems International, known as ESI and any other US or international entities connected with Mr. Geurin." The request was filed by the Intelligencer Journal newspaper, based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
  • November 2, 1989 Request to the Central Intelligence Agency for extensive list of materials concerning terrorist attacks at Frankfurt Airport during November and December 1988, including Pan American Flight 103. The request was filed by the American Broadcasting Company, Washington Bureau Investigative Unit.
  • November 3, 1989 Request to the Central Intelligence Agency by a current Agency employee that seeks a copy of the requester's "Official Security [] & Official Personnel files."
  • November 22, 1989 Request to the Central Intelligence Agency seeking records pertaining to the bombing of Pan American Flight 103 and terrorist threats at Frankfurt Airport. The request was filed by The Post Standard newspaper, based in Syracuse, N.Y.
  • December 5, 1989 Request to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This request was referred by NARA to the Air Force and produced by the Air Force as one of its Ten Oldest FOIA Requests. The request was filed by William Burr of the National Security Archive and seeks records concerning the Berlin Crisis. In particular, request seeks documents from 1961 that were withdrawn from Joint Chiefs of Staff records accessioned to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). This request was referred by NARA to a number of agencies, including Department of State, Army, Department of Defense, and Southern Command, which each released records and accepted appeals regarding excisions. Records have not been received from Air Force pursuant to this request.
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