FOIA CORRESPONDENCE by prophecyfactory1

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									DoJ Hiding Secret Weekly Reports to the Attorney General - 2


  19 February 2002

  See Michael Ravnitzky's account: http://cryptome.org/doj-footshot.htm


  [4 pages.]

                                                      U.S. Department of Justice

                                                      Office of Information and Privacy

   Telephone: (202) 514-3642                          Washington, DC 20530

                                                      JAN 15 2002
   Mr. Michael Ravnitzky
   American Lawyer Media
                                                      Re: OLA/02-R0174
   1730 M Street, NW
                                                          MAP:TSW:APM
   Suite 802
   Washington, DC 20036


  Dear Mr. Ravnitzky:

  This is to acknowledge receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated October 18, 2001 in which
  you requested Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) weekly memoranda to the Attorney General from January 1, 1992
  to December 31, 1995. For your information, because of interrupted mail service, this Office did not receive your
  request until December 8, 2001, This response is being made on behalf of OLA.

  You have requested expedited processing of this request, Your letter does not indicate the basis on which you seek
  such treatment, Requests will be taken out of chronological order based on the date of receipt and given expedited
  treatment only when it is determined that they involve: (1) circumstances in which lack of such treatment could
  reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or safety of an individual; (2) an urgency to inform the
  public about an actual or alleged federal goveniment activity, if made by a person primarily engaged in disseminating
  information; (3) the loss of substantial due process rights; or (4) a matter of widespread and exceptional media interest
  in which there exists possible questions about the government's integrity which affect public confidence. See 28
  C.F.R.§ 16.5(d)(1) (2001). This Office makes the determination regarding the first three categories and the
  Department's Director of Public Affairs makes the decision regarding the fourth category. See id. § 16.5(d)(2001).
  Requesters seeking expedited processing are required to submit a statement explaining in detail the basis for their
  request for expedited processing. See id. § 16.5(d)(3). This statement must be certified to be true and correct. See id.
  You have not provided such a statement. As a result, this request for expedited treatment is not properly made. Once
  the required certified explanation of the basis for seeking expedited processing is piovided, we will make a decision
  under the appropriate standard.

  This is the fourth request we have received from you on this topic. Your first request dated March 14, 2001 (OLA/01-
  R0512) actually sought "legislative accomplishment reports." We advised you that we were unable t olocate such
  reports, but that we had located OLA's weekly memoranda to the Attomey General and we provided you with 100
  pages of such memoranda dating from September 18, 2000 to May 15, 2001. You subsequently made a request on
  October 3, 2001 for OLA's weekly memoranda to the Attorney General from May 22, 2001 to October 3, 2001 and
  from January 1, 1996 to September 11, 2000 (OLA/02-R0062). Your next request dated November 4, 2001 sought
  OLA's weekly memoranda to the Attorney General from January 1, 1988 to December 31, 1991 (OLA/02-R0119). In
  this present request you are seeking these records from January 1, 1992 to December 31, 1995. Thus, you are seeking
  OLA weekly memoranda for the last thirteen years. You stated in your October 3, 2001 letter that you. "are willing to
  waive the '100 pages at no charge' for [your] fee category since [your] earlier requested and received 100 pages of this
  type of record." Please be advised that for fee purposes, your four requests for OLA weekly memoranda are being


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DoJ Hiding Secret Weekly Reports to the Attorney General - 2

  treated as one request.

  Additionally, in your letters you assert that you are a representative of the news media for fee purposes. However, we
  have performed an extensive electronic search but have been unable to locate any instances in which you used
  materials obtained through the FOIA for publication for news purposes. Although your employer is a news media
  entity, you have been making FOIA requests to this Office for many years, in your individual capacity and as an
  employee of news organizations, but you apparently have never actually published an article based on any materials
  we have provided to you. Thus, I have decided to deny you media status for fee purposes for this request. See National
  Sec. Archive v. DOD, 880 F.2d 1381, 1387 (D.C. Cir. 1989) ("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.")

  Further, in your October 3, 2001 letter, you requested a fee waiver. A fee waiver is appropriate when "disclosure of the
  requested information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of
  the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester." 5
  U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii). I considered six factors in making my determination as to whether your request satisfies this
  statutory standard: (1) whether the subject of the requested records concerns "the operations or activities of the
  government;" (2) whether the disclosure is "likely to contribute" to an understanding of government operations or
  activities; (3) whether disclosure of the requested information will contribute to the understanding of the general
  public; (4) whether the disclosure is likely to contribute "significantly" to public understanding of government
  operations or activities; (5) whether the requester has a commercial interest that would be furthered by the requested
  disclosure; and (6) whether any such commercial interest outweighs the public interest in disclosure. See 28 C.F.R. §
  16.11 (k).

  Based on the information you have provided, I have decided to deny your request for a fee waiver. In reaching my
  conclusion I have analyzed the above factors as they apply to the circumstances of your request. While the records you
  seek do concern the operations or activities of the Department of Justice and you do not appear to have an overriding
  commercial interest in the records, other relevant factors have not been met.

  To qualify for a fee waiver, you must make an adequate showing that a release of the information to you is in the
  public interest. The releasable portions of the OLA memoranda must be meaningfully informative in relation to the
  subject matter of the request. In many instances, the information being released in these records are already in thc
  public domain, just not in this particular format. Thus, much of the releasable portions of the reports would not be
  meaningfully informative. Also, disclosure of the requested material must contribute to the understanding of the public
  at large. This factor requires that the requester demonstrate with particularity his ability and intent to disseminate the
  information to the public. See, e.g., McLellan Ecological Seepage Situation v. Carlucci, 835 F.2d 1282, 1286 (9th Cir.
  1987) (denying fee waiver request for public interest group and stating that "[e]ven if requesters have ability to convey
  information to the public, they give no details about their intention to do so"). We have discerned no intent by you to
  actually disseminate this information. Without further information from you about your planned method of
  dissemination and your firm intent to do so, given your history of not actually disseminating information released to
  you, I cannot grant your fee waiver request at this time.

  Accordingly, Department of Justice regulations permit us to provide you, who we consider for purposes of this request
  to be a non-commercial, non-media requester, with two hours of search time and 100 pages of records per component
  without your incurring search or duplication charges. See id. § 16.11 (d). As inentioned, above, you have previously
  agreed to waive your 100 free pages. Beyond the two hours of free search time per component that you are entitled to,
  you will be required to pay for additional search time incurred at the cost of $28.00 for each hour of search time spent
  by professional personnel in obtaining these records. See id. § 16.11 (c)(1)(ii). Duplication fees will be assessed at ten
  cents per page. See id. § 16.11 (c)(2).

  For your information, two hours and twenty-two minutes of search time has been cornpleted to date. Search fees for
  the additional twenty-two minutes of search time total $10.27. We estimate that approximately six and one-half hours
  will be required to complete the search for your requests and that we will locate approximately 2600 further pages,
  Thus, the estimated fee for the processing of the remainder of this request is $182 for search time and $260 for


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DoJ Hiding Secret Weekly Reports to the Attorney General - 2

  duplication fees. Additionally, given the nature of these records and the time it takes to review each entry, we estimate
  that it could take as long as one year to cornplete the processing of yotir request.

  In cases where the anticipated fees are in excess of $250 we are authorized to require an advance payment. See id. §
  16.11 (i)(2). Thus, if you would like us to continue processing your request, please forward a check or money order for
  the total anticipated amount of $452.27, made payable to the United States Treasury, to the Office of Information and
  Privacy, Flag Building, Suite 570, Washington, DC 20530-0001. Please note "OLA/02-R0062, OLA/02-R0119, and
  OLA/02-R0174," on your check or money order and your envelope. If we have not received your payment for the
  anticipated fees owed within thirty days from the date of this letter, we will assume that you are no longer interested in
  us processing the remainder of your request and we will close your files in this Office. You may wish to narrow the
  scope of your request to reduce the applicable fees or specify a particular amount you are willing to pay. If you have
  any questions you may contact Amy McNulty, the analyst processing your request, at (202) 616-5484.

  If you are not satisfied with my action on your request for media status or your fee waiver request, you may
  administratively appeal by writing to the Co-Director, Office of Information and Privacy, United States Department of
  Justice, Flag Building, Suite 570, Washington, D.C. 20530-0001, within sixty days from the date of this letter. Both
  the letter and the envelope should be clearly marked "Freedom of Information Act Appeal."

  Sincerely,

  [Signed]

  Melanie Ann Pustay
  Deputy Director


  [2 pages.]

                                                AMERICAN LAWYER MEDIA
  Aric Press
  Editorial Director of
   National Publications
  105 Madison Avenue
  New York, NY 10016

  (212) 313-9044
  Fax: (212) 481-7903

  800.537.2128
  www.americanlawyermedia.com

  January 18, 2002


  United States Department of Justice
  Attn: Melanie Ann Pustay
  Office of Information & Privacy
  Washington, DC 20530
  Fax: 202-514-1009

  Dear Ms. Pustay:

  We are in receipt of your letter dated January 15, 2002, in which you declined to classify a request filed by one of our
  reporters as a request filed by a "representative of the news media" for fee purposes, and thus you anticipate charging

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DoJ Hiding Secret Weekly Reports to the Attorney General - 2

  "search" fees for this request or any related requests,

  Michael Ravnitzky has been employed in a newsgathering capacity by American Lawyer Media full-time since
  October 30, 2000. He holds the title Director of Database & Computer-Assisted Reporting. American Lawyer Media is
  the nation's largest legal journalism company. We publish legal newspapers in nine cities, six national magazines, a
  weekly national newspaper, plus dozens of newsletters and books. Effective January 1st, Mr. Ravnitzky works out of
  our offices in Washington, DC, where Legal Times is published.

  The primary thrust of his job is to support the news reporting activities of our publications by supplying necessary data
  and records to editors and reporters, and assisting on any data-intensive projects. He works on projects for many of the
  publications in the American Lawyer Media family. This includes several of our national magazines including The
  American Lawyer, Corporate Counsel, IP Worldwide, and Minority Law Journal; as well as for ALM's weekly
  newspaper, The National Law Journal. As needed, Michael also works for several of our regional publications such as
  The New York Law Journal, Legal Times, and the Philadelphia Intelligencer. In the context of his position, he does
  not typically receive a credited byline when his work is of a data-gathering or supporting nature.

  However, his work is essential to news reporting projects undertaken by our news organization. The presence or
  absence of an individual byline should not be used as the criteria to assess whether a request belongs in the news
  media fee category. Under the court decision you cite and from which you quote (National Security Archive v. DoD),
  "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."

  The work being done by the staff of our news organization fits that description precisely, and Mr. Ravnitzky is an
  integral part of the quantitative and factual news gathering necessary to make certain stories accurate and fair. Any
  requests he files on behalf of our news organization fall into the "news media" category described above. In this case,
  since the documents he requests relate to legislative matters at the Department of Justice, the agency tasked with
  establishing executive branch legal policy in the United States, his request for such weekly reports are certainly in that
  category,

  Please respond to this letter promptly.

  Sincerely,

  [Signed]

  Aric Press
  Editorial Director of National Publications
  American Lawyer Media

  CC: Allison Hoffman
      Vice President Corporate Affairs and General Counsel


                                                      U.S. Department of Justice

                                                      Office of Information and Privacy

   Telephone: (202) 514-3642                          Washington, DC 20530

                                                      FEB 11 2002
   Mr. Aric Press
   American Lawyer Media                              Re: OLA/02-R0174
   105 Madison Avenue                                     MAP:TSW:APM
   New York, NY 10016


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DoJ Hiding Secret Weekly Reports to the Attorney General - 2


  Dear Mr. Press:

  This responds to your letter dated January 18, 2002, which was received in this Office on February 1, 2002, pertaining
  to our denial of Michael Ravnitzky's request to be treated as a "representative of the news media."

  In your letter, you state that Mr. Ravnitzky is employed by Anierican Lawyer Media and that he supports the "news
  reporting activities" for several of your publications. You also state that "his work is essential to news reporting
  projects undertaken by" American Lawyer Media. Yet, you did not provide any examples of works published by your
  organization which utilized information requested by Mr. Ravriltzky under the Freedom of Inforination Act (FOIA).
  Moreover, in order for us to determine whether Mr, Ravnitzky is acting as a "representative of the news media" for
  purposes of this FOIA request -- one which seeks thirteen years of Office of Legislative Affairs weekly menioranda --
  we must be provided with sufficient information about its intended use of the particular records he has requested. Your
  letter does not demonstrate any intent to use the requested material for publication in any of your organization's media
  outlets, Instead, you make only the general assertion that because these documents "relate to legislative matters at the
  Department of Justice" Mr. Ravnitzky's request is "certainly" made as a representative of the news niedia." Without
  more specific information concerning Mr, Ravnitzky's, or Aincrican Lawyer Media's, intended use of the documents
  responsive to this request I cannot reach the same conclusion.

  If you can provide me with the additional, specific information referred to above to support what is, in effect, your
  request that I reconsider my decision concerning Mr. Raviiitzky's fee category, please feel free to do so. I will evaluate
  any such additional information in conjunction with your January 18, 2002 letter.

  As I assume you know, Mr. Ravnitzky has since withdrawn his requests for expedited processing and a fee waiver. In
  addition, the estimated duplication fees make up $260 of the total fee we quoted in our January 15, 2002 letter to Mr.
  Ravnitzky. All requesters are charged duplication fees. See 28 C.F.R. § 16.11 (c)(2) (2001.), Because this fee is over
  $250, we are authorized to require an advance payment, and have done so. See id. § 16.11(i)(2). Thus, If Mr.
  Ravnitzky would like us to continue processing his request, he is still responsible for an advance payment of the $260
  duplication fee, regardless of our detemination of his status as a media requester.

          Sincerely,

          [Signed]

          Melanie Ann Pustay
          Deputy Director

  cc: Michael Ravnitzky


  Transcription and HTML by Cryptome.




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