For the 50 or so people that actually click on the posts about my SEAL courts-martial FOIA requests everyday, here is the denial letter that I received on Monday, April 19.  I include when I received it because the dates of the letter (look carefully, I meant dates) are amusing.  I have lots of comments, but, like the RLSO, I will save them until this entire process is final.

8 Responses to “SEAL Court Martial Info. Update”

  1. JWS says:

    Does the Federal FOIA actually allow an agency to demand the requestor “explain” why the request was made? Wow!! In my state, the “reason” for the request is irrelevant; if the info is disclosable, it must be disclosed.

  2. Nancy Truax says:

    I think those are things you need to show to qualify for a fee waiver under FOIA.

  3. JimmyMac says:

    From the “FOIA Wars”…seems once upon a time there was a large Federal Investigative Agency whihc received a FOIA request for “any and all records pertaining to any investigation of ‘Al Queda'”. The agency responded, “We have no responsive records pertaining to a ‘Mr. Al Queda’.” Can’t make this stuff up….

  4. Socrates says:

    Are the “standards” asserted in this letter are made-up out of whole cloth (e.g., “not a narrow segment of interested persons) or quoted verbatim? In a country of 300 million people, does the “public at-large” standard require at least 150 million people to be interested?

    If these legal standards are a bit embellished, they seem to convey a snide undertone that “nobody REALLY cares about military justice.”

  5. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    Socrates–I would say their news gatherer standard is rather wordy. This is what DOJ OIP says:

    The definition of a “representative of the news media” refers to any person actively gathering information of current interest to the public for an organization that is organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the general public. (Citation omitted) The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has elaborated upon this definition, holding that “a representative of the news media is, in essence, a person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.” (Citation omitted).

    Here is my justification for fee waiver from my request:

    I request the briefs and orders related to this issue in order to post them on and discuss them on CAAFlog (, a publicly accessible blog covering military justice.

    As a member of the media I request a fee waiver. If no fee waiver is granted I request to be informed of the costs of producing the
    requested brief to determine if the costs are reasonable and whether I
    will pay such costs.

  6. Charles Gittins says:

    The Navy response is a pile of bullshit. Court records are presumtively public documents. I have invited the press to fight this battle in the DC Circuit in cases where they have received the same BS denial, but the costs of litigation dissuaded them. Somebody needs to fight this out because the Supremes say court records = public documents and the Navy/DoD position would warrant an award of attorney’s fees since the position is not substantially justified — in fact the reasons for the denial are just a crock. You should appeal and then file a PA suit in DDC and prove that the emperor has no clothes. Just my $.02

  7. JWS says:

    Again, Wow! In my state (WA), failure of an agency to timely produce documents can result is a large daily fine that is lucrative to both the requestor and his lawyer.

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