The one-year anniversary of a Freedom of Information Act request I submitted to Defense Intelligence Agency officials is approaching quickly, and I have yet to receive a meaningful response. Why? It appears DIA officials don’t want the information they should have provided me a long time ago to become public, especially as a chapter in any future edition of THE CLAPPER MEMO.
Anyone who accuses me of trying to “stir the pot” by generating controversy in conjunction with the release of my above-mentioned second nonfiction book is only partially correct. As I explain below, my claim has merit.
This saga began July 16, 2012, when I requested the following via FOIA:
“…copies of any and all initial and follow-up contracts (i.e., solicitations, contracts, statements of work and task orders) related to the Portable Credibility Assessment Screening System (PCASS) or Preliminary Credibility Assessment Screening System (PCASS) that have been awarded by and Department of Defense Agency to Lafayette Instrument Company of Lafayette, Indiana, and any other contractors, academic institutions, laboratories and subcontractors from January 1, 2000, to present.”
If you’re new to this subject matter, some background information might help.
PCASS is a credibility assessment technology commonly referred to as the “portable polygraph” in which I became interested in April 2008 after the Department of Defense announced it was being deployed to combat zones in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Now, back to the story.
Ten days after submitting my FOIA request, I received an interim response from Alesia Y. Williams, chief of DIA’s FOIA Office. In part, she wrote:
“We will be unable to respond to your request within the FOIA’s 20 day statutory time period due to unusual circumstances… your request has been placed in our queue and will be worked in the order the request was received. Our current administrative workload is in excess of 1,352 requests.”
That seemed like an awfully long wait. During a follow-up phone call three days later, I learned from Williams exactly how long it would be. She told me I should not expect a reply earlier than nine months from today — or April 30, 2013.
All I could think was, “Wow!”
After watching the estimated date of DIA’s reply come and go, I decided to authorize the release of THE CLAPPER MEMO on Amazon May 2. I would find out one week later that the folks at DIA seemed to have been paying attention.
On May 9, I received a letter from DIA’s Williams. Dated seven days earlier (i.e., the day THE CLAPPER MEMO went on sale), it contained 12 pages of heavily-redacted documents. Unfortunately, the documents contained very little useful information pertinent to the contracts and dated back only as far as April 2010 instead of Jan. 1, 2000, as I had requested.
On top of the lack of information, the letter contained this insult:
“Please remit to this office a check or money order made payable to the Treasurer of the United States in the amount of $155.80,” Williams wrote. “This fee is for professional search and review time of 3.5 hours at $44.00 per hour, reproduction and release costs of 12 pages at 15 cents per page. Please write on your payment the case number assigned to your request.”
Of course, Williams added a paragraph at the end of her letter, letting me know I had 60 days to appeal the charges. And I did appeal them.
Three weeks later, I sent an appeal letter in which I highlighted DIA’s failure to respond in any meaningful way to my FOIA request and let DIA officials know that “Until such time as a genuine effort is made on behalf of your agency to provide the requested documentation, I shall not remit payment as requested.” I have yet to hear a reply.
By stonewalling me for nine and a half months, they managed to keep the information out of the first edition of my latest nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO.
By continuing their stonewalling effort, they are only digging their hole deeper as I intend to continue pursuing the information first requested almost one year ago.
If you’re interested in knowing why DIA officials would go to such lengths to keep secret the unclassified information I requested about PCASS-related contracts, you can find out by ordering a copy of THE CLAPPER MEMO.