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IP: Commerce FOIA Fails - Department Orders New Search

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Delivered-To: [email protected]
Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1998 17:40:42 -0500 (EST)
To: [email protected]
From: [email protected] (CharlesSmith)
Subject: IP: Commerce FOIA Fails - Department Orders New Search
Sender: [email protected]
Precedence: list
Reply-To: [email protected] (CharlesSmith)

Softwar is pleased to announce the successful challenge and appeal
of a failed U.S. Commerce Department Freedom of Information request.

On Oct. 13, 1998 the Commerce Department returned materials responsive
to a request on the Computer Systems Policy Project or CSPP.  The
material returned included a note from the Commerce Department stating
that this was the "final" and "complete" response.

However, the Commerce Department did not include several documents
previously obtained from both Commerce and the National Security
Council (NSC) on the CSPP.  Thus, the Commerce Department response
was neither "final" nor "complete.

Commerce officials who reviewed the Softwar appeal have agreed the
search was incomplete and did violate the Freedom of Information Act.
Commerce officials have notified me that they are now ordering the
entire agency re-do the search.

In fact, all materials from 1994 and 1995 on the CSPP were missing
from the Commerce response, including public domain reports written
by the CSPP.  The public domain reports were discovered in a previous
unrelated FOIA search of Ron Brown's files.  The 1994 and 1995 reports
included the name and address of Podesta Associates as the official
contact for CSPP.

In 1995 Bill Reinsch wrote a memo to Ron Brown detailing a secret
meeting with the CSPP, a group of computer CEOs, consisting of Apple,
AT&T, Compaq, Cray, Silicon Graphics, Digital Equipment
Corporation, Tandem, Sun and Unisys.

You can see parts of that secret meeting memo at

In 1995 the CSPP lobby group was led by Ken Kay, an employee of
Tony Podesta, the brother of White House advisor John Podesta.
In 1995, John Podesta worked at the White House running encryption
and super computer policy.  During the same period of time, the
CSPP and Clinton officials began holding a series of classified
briefings on encryption and super computer export policy.  Part of
the classified materials given to CSPP members included secret
designs for software and hardware products containing "back-doors"
to allow unrestricted monitoring by the government.

John Podesta is now Clinton's Chief of Staff.

FOIA appeal as follows -

7707 Whirlaway Drive
Midlothian, VA  23112

October 16, 1998

ROOM 5898-C


Dear Sir/Madam:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, 5 USC 552, and to the
regulations of the Commerce Department, CDR (citation to departmental
regulations, obtainable from committee print index), I hereby appeal
the Commerce Department denial of my FOIA request dated February 10,
1998 for all information on "the Computer Systems Policy Project
(CSPP)"  (Please see example #1 - FOIA request of February 10,

1.  The Commerce Department denial stated in the reply dated, October
13, 1998, that it has completed all searches and returned the "FINAL
response" for the FOIA request dated February 10, 1998 for all
information on "the Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP)".
(Please see example #2 Commerce response dated Oct. 13, 1998).
The Commerce Department statement that it has completed all searches
and returned a "FINAL" result is incorrect because responsive
documents from the Commerce Department were NOT RETURNED.

2.  Several U.S. Commerce Department documents previously obtained
through the Freedom of Information Act were NOT returned by the Commerce
Department in response to the specific FOIA request dated February 10,
1998 for all information on "the Computer Systems Policy Project (CSPP)".

3.  I have attached part of one such example, two pages from a U.S.
Commerce Department memo for Secretary Ron Brown   This document is
clearly responsive to my FOIA request of Feb. 10, 1998 because the
subject material is a meeting between the Secretary of the Commerce
and CSPP members.  (Please see example #3, Memo from William Reinsch
to Ron Brown dated June 1, 1995 - CSPP MEETING).

4.  I have obtained several responsive documents that are sourced
from the U.S. Commerce Department and were NOT discovered nor returned
by the Department.  The document cited in item #3 above is only a single

5.  The Commerce Department has performed an INCOMPLETE search and
is in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 USC 552.  The
Commerce Department has not complied with the Freedom of Information
Act, 5 USC 552, because it is unable or unwilling to perform complete
FOIA requests.

Please reply by November 10, 1998.  If the appeal is denied, please
specify the section of the Freedom of Information Act which is being
relied on as a legal basis for the denial.

Thank you.

Charles R. Smith
1 if by land, 2 if by sea.  Paul Revere - encryption 1775
Charles R. Smith
SOFTWAR         http://www.softwar.net      [email protected]
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SOFTWAR EMAIL NEWSLETTER                            10/28/1998
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Robert A. Hettinga <mailto: [email protected]>
Philodox Financial Technology Evangelism <http://www.philodox.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'