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View Full Version : Has anyone had the experience of doing a FOIA request of their FBI file?



Kara Dellacioppa
05-05-2013, 03:03 AM
Did you think it was worth it? I waited six months for a redacted summary of one incident where i was arrested where 70% of the paper were not release. I have some informant pages that are nearly illeligible and stuff that was public knowledge about the incident. Yet my file was opened when I was 17 and active until last year and only one thing was of importance. Should I do an appeal to get a more access to my file? I dont know if its worth it or if i would learn anything from it. Anyone have experience in this matter? would be grateful for a response.. Kara

Magda Hassan
05-05-2013, 03:22 AM
I'm not a US citizen so personal FBI files are not some thing I have any experience of but I am all for getting them to provide all the documents and keeping them busy and shaking their cage. I think you should also be able to get a better copy of the ones that are illegible as well. And appeals can bring up more documents as can a different person doing the application their end. So, worth a shot. I'm sure others here will help.

Peter Lemkin
05-05-2013, 06:09 AM
Did you think it was worth it? I waited six months for a redacted summary of one incident where i was arrested where 70% of the paper were not release. I have some informant pages that are nearly illeligible and stuff that was public knowledge about the incident. Yet my file was opened when I was 17 and active until last year and only one thing was of importance. Should I do an appeal to get a more access to my file? I dont know if its worth it or if i would learn anything from it. Anyone have experience in this matter? would be grateful for a response.. Kara

I've done several some years back. Now it is more difficult and it always was. They see their mandate as one to deny as much as possible. They will carefully look at your WORDING to find ways to deny you - so you must get the wording correctly. Too complex to go into here....I think you can find some guides on internet from responsible progressive groups on the wording. Second, though they know the law, you should state it in your request. Also prove you are you with a notary stamp to your signature. Don't take 'no' for an answer - nor a partial compliance either. Keep after them. You can appeal as many times as you like - even sue them for it [though expensive unless your relative or friend is a lawyer]. Point out clearly to them exactly what you think should be 'there' and why. For each city in or near an FBI office you think there may be a file or part of a file on you [not all is in D.C. and copies are scattered far and wide!], you need to list that city in all sent - and send one to each. [I sent my requests listing many, many FBI offices past and present - but they don't change much] If there could be other agencies with some of the information, list and send to those too. Do not just list papers, say something like: 'any information regarding XXXXXXX and XXXXX .,....... [I]in any form: paper, electronic, tape, video, photos, or any other information storage system[s]' Don't ask, politely DEMAND. Tell them what was sent you know [explain why/how] is not complete - and they are not following the FOIA law. Assume the person handling the request is stupid and overworked - also could care less about your request [likely all true] and do their work for them - list dates; incidents; places; etc. that might trigger a response to your request, as well as your name or any other names you have used. Tell them to look under logical misspellings of your name; with and without middle name; with long and short form of first names; with and without married name [if applies], etc. If not a risk to others, list others associated with what you 'went through' as you might be co-listed in THEIR files! Separately, tell them they are blacking out too much material [and give exact rationale/reason for why you believe this - study up on the only valid reasons they can do this]. If an important case, and you happen to have one of the few helpful congresspersons, ask their help and have them co-sign the request! If you have any proofs [police/FBI reports/news items/private letters, photos etc.] that indicate other materials about other incidents and dates and places must logically exist tell them or show them, if not sensitive [but what you send them will go into your file!]. This is NOT an exhaustive list nor guide. There are guides to this process [more an art] on the internet. Look for a RECENT FEW - as they change the 'rules' of the game all the time; and post 9-11 all is more difficult - and gets so all the time now. Welcome to hell! Good luck. :unclesam: They work for us...as hard as it is to believe. They don't believe so at all. Lastly, be firm and resolute in your request. Tell them you intend to persist until you get all you KNOW is there and at other field offices or agencies.

Kara Dellacioppa
05-05-2013, 01:56 PM
This is really helpful! I will try to look up some of those guides on the internet. Wow it seems like they want to make a fulltime job just to get your hands on your file!




Did you think it was worth it? I waited six months for a redacted summary of one incident where i was arrested where 70% of the paper were not release. I have some informant pages that are nearly illeligible and stuff that was public knowledge about the incident. Yet my file was opened when I was 17 and active until last year and only one thing was of importance. Should I do an appeal to get a more access to my file? I dont know if its worth it or if i would learn anything from it. Anyone have experience in this matter? would be grateful for a response.. Kara

I've done several some years back. Now it is more difficult and it always was. They see their mandate as one to deny as much as possible. They will carefully look at your WORDING to find ways to deny you - so you must get the wording correctly. Too complex to go into here....I think you can find some guides on internet from responsible progressive groups on the wording. Second, though they know the law, you should state it in your request. Also prove you are you with a notary stamp to your signature. Don't take 'no' for an answer - nor a partial compliance either. Keep after them. You can appeal as many times as you like - even sue them for it [though expensive unless your relative or friend is a lawyer]. Point out clearly to them exactly what you think should be 'there' and why. For each city in or near an FBI office you think there may be a file or part of a file on you [not all is in D.C. and copies are scattered far and wide!], you need to list that city in all sent - and send one to each. [I sent my requests listing many, many FBI offices past and present - but they don't change much] If there could be other agencies with some of the information, list and send to those too. Do not just list papers, say something like: 'any information regarding XXXXXXX and XXXXX .,....... [I]in any form: paper, electronic, tape, video, photos, or any other information storage system[s]' Don't ask, politely DEMAND. Tell them what was sent you know [explain why/how] is not complete - and they are not following the FOIA law. Assume the person handling the request is stupid and overworked - also could care less about your request [likely all true] and do their work for them - list dates; incidents; places; etc. that might trigger a response to your request, as well as your name or any other names you have used. Tell them to look under logical misspellings of your name; with and without middle name; with long and short form of first names; with and without married name [if applies], etc. If not a risk to others, list others associated with what you 'went through' as you might be co-listed in THEIR files! Separately, tell them they are blacking out too much material [and give exact rationale/reason for why you believe this - study up on the only valid reasons they can do this]. If an important case, and you happen to have one of the few helpful congresspersons, ask their help and have them co-sign the request! If you have any proofs [police/FBI reports/news items/private letters, photos etc.] that indicate other materials about other incidents and dates and places must logically exist tell them or show them, if not sensitive [but what you send them will go into your file!]. This is NOT an exhaustive list nor guide. There are guides to this process [more an art] on the internet. Look for a RECENT FEW - as they change the 'rules' of the game all the time; and post 9-11 all is more difficult - and gets so all the time now. Welcome to hell! Good luck. :unclesam: They work for us...as hard as it is to believe. They don't believe so at all. Lastly, be firm and resolute in your request. Tell them you intend to persist until you get all you KNOW is there and at other field offices or agencies.

Peter Lemkin
05-05-2013, 05:38 PM
You're welcome. Many other things come to mind. But, as you start to get files, they often list other field [FBI] offices that received copies....send the same request to them too! They might also reference other documents by number. Request them [and make it clear NOT JUST them]. Once you get a reply, it will usually be sent by one FOIA-response person. If they seem like they are half-way doing their job, try to write the next time to them personally [address it both to their name and the Office/Field Office FOIA Office [both - on the one paper]. Try [not easy] to make them feel some rapport with you and some desire to see you get your papers and off of their ass. Tell them you intent to appeal until satisfied you have all, and will even consider suing for the materials, if they are not forthcoming. Remind them of the FOIA law and their statutory obligation to fulfill it. Ask around on progressive websites for what worked and what did not in a FOIA. If you want to discuss particular matters or questions, PM me. If I have some time, I'll try to find on my computer the guides I have on FOIA filings.