May 7, 2008
Archive Featured in Fox News Expose on FBI Files
FBI Official Claims Innocent Mistake in Answering "No Records" on Al Qaeda;
But FBI Sent "No Records" Response a Second Time Answering Archive's Appeal
For more information contact:
Meredith Fuchs - 202/994-7000
DC, May 7, 2008 - The National Security Archive's Meredith Fuchs was featured May 5 in a Fox-5 News (WTTG) expose about the FBI's mismanaged secrets.
"The Fox News report would make anyone concerned about how well the FBI finds its own information for use in its investigations," commented Meredith Fuchs. "In addition, their failure to protect historically valuable records by transferring them to the National Archives may result in the loss or destruction of documentation that chronicles the Bureau's role investigating crimes throughout the latter part of the 20th century."
Part One of the two-part report reveals the FBI's failure to transfer its historically valuable records to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) despite a consent decree entered by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia over 20 years ago mandating that the FBI transfer its records so that they will be preserved.
Part Two of the report reveals the inadequacies of the FBI's recordkeeping system, which results in 60-70% of Freedom of Information Act requests being denied because the FBI cannot find the requested records. In particular, the National Security Archive provided an example of a request for records on "Al Qaeda" that was denied because the Bureau had "no records." According to the FBI's representative in the Fox News report, that response was a mistake because the FBI staff sent the wrong letter. The Archive's records show, however, that the denial was administratively appealed to the Department of Justice's Office of Information and Privacy, which ordered the FBI to conduct a new search. The second search also was denied because there still were "no records" found on Al Qaeda.