The National Security Agency (NSA) turned down Ohio resident Clayton Seymour’s reasonable Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. Seymour, a typical law-abiding Buckeye, merely wanted to know if the NSA had been collecting information from his phone of electronic correspondence. According to the lengthy FOIA denial letter, simply finding out if the NSA is tracking or storing your information is a matter of such national security importance all files must remain closed.
NSA response to Freedom of Information Act Request by Clayton Seymour:
“Although these two programs have been publicly acknowledged, details about them remain classified and/or protected from release by statutes to prevent harm to the national security of the United States. To the extent that your request seeks any metadata/call detail records on your and/or any telephone numbers provided in your request, or seeks intelligence information on you, we cannot acknowledge the existence or non-existence of such metadata or call detail records pertaining to the telephone number you provided or based on your name. Any positive or negative response on a request-by-request basis would allow our adversaries to accumulate information and draw conclusions about NSA’s technical capabilities, sources, and methods. Our advertisers are likely to evaluate all public responses related to these programs. Were we to provide positive or negative responses to requests such has yours, our adversaries’ compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to national security.
Therefore, your request is denied because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter in accordance with Executive Order 13526, as set forth in subparagraph C of section 1.4. Thus, your request is denied pursuant to the first exemption of the FOIA, which provides that the FOIA does not apply to matters that are specifically authorized under criteria established by an executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign relations and are properly classified pursuant to such executive order.”
So much for Barack Obama residing over the most transparent administration in the history of the Republic. Nancy Pelosi’s vow to “drain the swamp” resulted not in clear water, but an over-abundance of ilk and grime dripping onto the Constitution. Chris Seymour said his blood boiled when he received the NSA FOIA denial letter.
The Hilliard man also stated that he knew of nothing the NSA could possible want to monitor in his life and merely wanted the peace of mind which comes with knowing whether or not his activities had been under surveillance.
Seymour also said, “I was furious [when the NSA FOIA denial letter came} and I feel betrayed. I believe in the concept of America, but not its current execution.” The 36-year-old Ohio man is a Navy veteran who twice voted for President Obama. It makes me feel extremely ungrateful and unpatriotic to tell a Navy man “told ya” in reference to his ballot box selection, but at least now the IT specialist is likely coming to understand the ills of the Obama administration and is fighting back against the latest affront to the Constitution. The Founding Fathers would be proud to count the sailor among the protectors of their great work.
Chris Seymour’s FOIA request is not the first or the only American to receive the same letter from the NSA. There are perfectly reasonable exemptions to the dictates in the Freedom of Information Act, but Seymour’s request and others like his, do not appear to fall into such categories. A governmental agency can legitimately deny a FOIA request in the information has been “properly classified as secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy.”
Executive Order 13526, which was cited in the NSA FOIA letter pertains to a document signed by President Barack Obama in 2009. The executive order created a uniform manner in which national security information was classified.
Executive Order 13526 states:
“Information shall not be considered for classification unless its unauthorized disclosure could reasonably be expected to cause identifiable or describable damage to national security. Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their government. Also, our nation’s progress depends on the free flow of information both within the government and to the American people. Nevertheless, throughout our history, national defense has required that certain information be maintained in confidence in order to protect our citizens, our democratic institutions, our homeland security, and our interactions with foreign nations. Protecting information critical to our nation’s security and demonstrating our commitment to open government through accurate and accountable application of classification standards and routine, secure, and effective declassification are equally important priorities. ”
The category the NSA cited when thwarting Chris Seymour’s FOIA request reads:
“Intelligence activities [including covert action] intelligence sources or methods, or cryptology.”
The way the NSA is wielding Executive Order 13526, every little tidbit of data it has been collecting from average American citizens has been done covertly, making it classified. Only once Fourth Amendment rights violations lawsuits citing unwarranted search and seizures by the NSA start flooding the court system, will Seymour and others who sent FOIA requests, possibly garner access to the folders bearing their names.
The stated NSA concern that our adversaries will discover their secret metadata collecting activities is more than a little far-fetched. Chinese hackers already know extremely well how to locate, track, and store electronic communications, and probably have peeked at several government files already. As previously reported by Off The Grid News, the Emergency Alert System was deemed to be “critically vulnerable” during a recent IOActive review.
The emergency and disaster system which replaced the Emergency Broadcast System has firmware issues which could allow cyber terrorists to issue fake warnings or evacuation directions contrary to those issued from official government sources. If the NSA is truly concerned about what our enemies know, they need to spend a lot more time tracking and storing their communication activities and far fewer hours peering into the lives of law-abiding Americans.
How do you feel about the NSA FOIA request denial and the snooping on American citizens?