The FBI has sent me a largely uninteresting cover letter in response to an FOIA request filed when your grandfather was a small boy. The letter was originally sent in 2003 with a report about an investigation by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) into FBI abuse of the so-called “wall” procedures, which regulated information sharing between intelligence agents on one side and prosecutors and criminal agents on the other.
Together with the cover letter, the report totals 244 pages, but will not be forthcoming from the FBI. As it was done by the OPR, it should come to me from the DoJ. The bureau also sent me a six-page list of the other page numbers (3 to 244, understandably) and next to each number is the text “Referral/direct.” If you don’t believe they could do anything this pointless, see here.
At the bottom of a fairly confusing letter from the FBI that came with the cover letter for the report, it says:
The 242 pages withheld from the enclosed file originated with the Department of Justice and were referred to that agency for their review and direct response to you. Due to an administrative error, these pages have not previously been forwarded.
I take this to mean that they only just sent the DoJ the other 242 pages to review for redaction. This despite the fact that on 10 May 2007, 9 August 2007, and 16 June 2008 the bureau wrote to assure me, “Currently your request is being reviewed by an analyst.” One can only wonder what the analyst was reviewing for over 14 months. All she had to do, apparently, is send me a two-page cover letter and pop the rest of the report in the internal post. How can that take more than a few minutes?
Whereas most FOIA requests generate an instant demand for money, followed by a long silence, this request (which was for other documents as well, and some of them have already been produced) led to a bewildering array of correspondence and much amusement on my part.