I recently ask for records which were created during the processing of my initial request for TOI (Tracks of Interest) and UTs (Unknown Tracks). Since I am interesting in how USNORTHCOM responds to such events.
The file contains 117 pages of which 70 pages was internal correspondence and official forms for processing this request (mostly censored under (b5) and (b6) under the exemptions of the FOIA). Initially I broaden my request to cover OPREP 3 reports, but I narrowed my request in this instant to make the request more manageable.
I get the impression that a search in a number of different directorates was conducted to locate the records pertaining to my request. One of the forms was entitled “consolidated OCR Coord” with an electronic signature from Brigadier Gen Deputy Director of Operations. A number of documents were “Tasker updated by N-NC” (staff). These documents were created by the system used by USNORTHCOM. Then it gets more interesting. A document entitled “Staff Summary Sheet (SSS), from NORAD and USNORTHCOM was created. This document was to “NJ 3, NCJ3 and J8”, the first and second being Operations, and the third is programs and resources (budgets). These have references to background discussions which of course are censored. Further documents of this nature are in the records as well to “N2C2 and NCJ3” N2C2 is NORAD and USNORTHCOM Command Center.
A document from NORAD dated Feb 12 2013 classified as FOUO (For Official Use Only) was created. It is interesting to know where the crossover of authority for these records lies, since NORAD is a bi-national organization and neither subject to FOIA nor Access to Information act, this too was signed by DD of Operations. This two page letter was censored almost completely, and it has about 32 pages of documents attached so I can gather. Whether these are the Tracks of Interest and Unknown Tracks is only speculation but it’s a strong possibility. Since some of the documents seem to have their classification marking censored as well as the entire contents of the document in a block format. There are a few memos like the one mentioned here, one is from the Director of Operations dated 1st February 2013.
Other documents have “Look for Classification Marking in Message Body” top and bottom of the documents. Some records were from Operation Research Analyst NORAD and USNORTHCOM and a variety of “CIV USA” staff. On page 72 of these documents there seems to be an excel format table of some kind, and possible classification marks on the top left hand corner (TOI or UTs?).
Further documents were signed by “Interagency/Search and Rescue Hq USNORTHCOM” and “DOMOPS Dep Div Chief USNORTHCOM” his name was censored as with many others, but I have located his name which isn’t important. There were a lot of coordination with “CIV” and military staff as well. One interesting document was from “Team Lead, Battle Staff Synch Team” which seems unusual. This particular document had “Importance: High” dated 24th April 2013. This may refer to the classified portion and location of the records in question. In some of the records there are references to NIPR or NIPRnet which is a Non classified Internet Protocol Router Network, and SIPR (Secret Internet Router Network), possible references to UTS and TOI (unclassified).
Then the most interesting documents of them all appear. The Legal Review records from the Staff Judge Advocates Office. It seems that these documents hold the key to the decision making on whether the records I requested are releasable. One document dated 1st May 2013 and signed by a Colonel (Operational Law Attorney) is key as well as a document dated May 6th 2013 from the Special Advisor to the Staff Judge Advocate Intelligence, Information and Computer Network Operations Law, HQ NORAD and USNORTHCOM” with references to SIPRNet and JWICS (Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System). There was a warning on this document stating “Subject to Attorney/Client Privilege”. Then the final response, dated 20th May, which provide some regulations, but no TOI nor UTs documents nor any explanation, and a signed letter dated 16th May 2013. The door closed. Interestingly copies of my articles from the Black Vault website were also enclosed in the file (probably for fee waiver purposes).
I made other requests for the records but the response was they are on a “non-United States government system” and not subject to the FOIA. I also asked for documents pertaining from other DOD components/agencies to be reviewed, and the reply “no records”.
We will see if they do identify the OPR for the documents and the “Canadian” system, which I requested to be released, they refused my fee waiver, so it the opinion of USNORTHCOM that it is not in the interest of the DOD that this information is made public. Since it provides specifics, since it was admitted in an early FOIA request that the TOI were generated on the Canadian system but no mention of the UTs and how the information was generated from the data collected.