December 20, 2015
I have a problem and I hope that you can help me with an answer. I am a freelance journalist, write for German newspapers and magazines. My research related to military and intelligence affairs. Therefore it is not unusual to contact federal agencies of the United States with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. But now I have a problem. I contacted the Central Intelligence Agency with two FOIA requests. But the Agency does not respond. The requests were sent more than a month ago. The time limits for responding to a request is 20 working days.
Had you ever “FOIA trouble” with the CIA? How can I get the information I'm looking for? Is there an address where I can ask or complain? For an answer I thank you already in advance.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a good start to the new year.
March 10, 2015
I've requested literally thousands of different things, and the CIA is one of the worst to deal with. In short, yes, they are supposed to respond within 20 working days - but usually - they don't. Keep in mind, the CIA also responds via snail mail, and if you are overseas, it may take a little longer to get your response.
Many times, you get an initial 'interim response' that acknowledges your request. This then puts you in line to be processed. That can then take weeks, months, or even years to complete.
It's one of the many frustrating things about that agency in particular, but unfortunately, they make the rules!
You can appeal the lack of response... which then may light a fire so to speak to get them to respond a bit quicker. That also may slow it down, since that requires a different level of processing. In my opinion, I would ask before appealing, and see if you get a response. You can fax in your letter to them rather than mailing it - but they don't have an email address to ask (that I know of).
Hope this helps.
John Greenewald, Jr.
The Black Vault