December 2, 2012
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.
December 2, 2012
It is important to understand the process involved when trying to access information use legal methods, since this helps locate information, and it also provides insight into whether you have any chance of accessing that information. And in this case it seems if the records pertaining to unknown tracks needs consultation from multiple sources in the DOD, and its on a Canadian system. I cannot see how you would be able to access this information since it would be from a foreign government. It is possible if the information originated from the Canadian authorities. I do not rule out the information being released, but I believe it was place on this system in order to prevent the information being disclosed, unless it was generated on that system from the data obtained, but the data itself may of originated in the US or at least some of it. Its a difficult situation know wonder the records above contained a Legal Review, and consultation as such. Its not that the records cannot be released once redacted but USNORTHCOM/NORAD do not wish them released. So far all my requests have deem some information and insight but not the actual records.
December 2, 2012
Its all rather bizzare, NORAD is not subject to the FOIA nor ATI act, they here are some figures from a booklet they have issued.
Between Sept 2004 and Jan 2005 in the CONUS (continental US) there were 640 Tracks detected, these were Unknowns (Unknown Tracks and Riders), TFR Violators, FAA Request for Assistance and Suspect Tracks. This resulted in 377 Scrambles with an estimate cost of 4.5 million dollars. For the SEADS (South East Air Defense Sector ) there were 217 Tracks which accounts for 34 % of total and 129 of 377 scrambles that’s 34% of total activity for Sept 2004 and Jan 2005. For this period there were 40 Unknowns, 37 were identified by Air Traffic Control, which resulted in 13 scrambles and 3 intercepts. Yet obtaining the same information from USNORTHCOM is proving to be tough.
December 2, 2012
December 2, 2012
My recent FOIA request for OPREP 3s, UTs and possible Blue Ribbon Panel meetings, and the OPR and which system the Unknown Tracks were generated on, have all decline my fee waiver. Which is interesting since the activities and the reversal of the decision to release or even attempt to release the materials pertaining to UTs (even though I was granted a fee wavier), and TOI (Tracks of Interest). Perhaps a decision has been made not to allow this researcher to obtain information concerning USNORTHCOM, or is it a wider activity?
It seems that any records which are not unclassified are deemed sensitive and thus require the search for such activities to be limited if fees are not sufficient, they deem it is not in the DOD interests for the public to obtain information pertaining to their activities unless they want the information to be a controlled released.
December 2, 2012
Well the final response from USNORTHCOM has arrived. And as I thought NORAD is the OPR for the TOI and UT records. Neither are subject to the FOIA nor ATIA (Canadian), so their response to file a ATIA request was inaccurate. It is now down to whether NORAD wishes to respond to my requests, since both countries tax payers are funding NORAD. It is now in the hands of NORAD. There is no legal way of accessing the unclassified TOI nor the classified UTs. I just hope they follow the spirit of both acts.