Saturday, January 24, 2009

My recent art at Projekt 30 Gallery

Ivan Greenberg · Steve Gribben · Katya Grokhovsky · Ernst Gruler · Lynx Guimond · Ozgur Gungor · Molly Gunther · Katie Gutierrez ...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Surge in FOIA requests to FBI"

Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 09:46:01 -0500
Reply-To: igreen7047@AOL.COM
Sender: State and Local Freedom of Information Issues

From: "Dr. Ivan Greenberg"
Subject: Surge in FOIA requests to FBI

The new DOJ Annual FOIA Report indicates that the FBI received 17,241 requests in 2008, a major increase over 12,509 requests in 2007. This is a positive sign for openness. While secrecy increased under the Bush administration, change is in the air. FOIA requests are one indicator of bottom-up ferment among the general population. To give historical perspective, since 1974 FBI FOIA requests reached the 17,000 level only three times. This occurred at the time of the Millennium (1999, 2000, 2001). Then came 9/11 and requests dramatically declined.

Ivan Greenberg, Ph.D.

Monday, January 12, 2009

FOIA Appeal to U.S. Justice Department, "October Plan" (2004)

Office of Information and Privacy
U.S. Department of Justice
1425 New York Ave., NW, Suite 11050
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Jan 10, 2009

Re: Freedom of Information Act Appeal

Dear Director:

This is an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act.

By letter dated April 22, 2008, I submitted a FOIA request for records “pertaining to and/or captioned: October Plan (2004 Presidential Election).”

I explained in my letter: “The so-called ‘October Plan’ was an FBI Surveillance Program conducted at the time of the 2004 Presidential Election, as reported in the media.”

My request was assigned No. 1114243-000. By letter dated Aug. 25, 2008, the FBI’s Washington FOIA office indicated there were “no records” on this subject.

By letter dated Aug. 28, 2008, I sent you an appeal.

By letter dated Oct. 23, 2008, you advised me you received my letter.

By letter dated Oct. 31, 2008, Janice Galli McLeod told me: ”After carefully considering your appeal, and as a result of discussions between FBI personnel and a member of my staff, I am remanding your request for a further search for responsive records.”

By letter dated Nov. 12, 2008, David M. Hardy of the FBI’s FOIA office told me again there were no records. He wrote: “You are advised that your request was remanded for additional searching by the Department of Justice-Office on Information and Privacy. The latest search revealed no records responsive to your FOIPA appeal were located by a search of the automated indices.”

I hereby appeal the adequacy of the FBI’s search. I also request that any future releases by the FBI pertaining to this request will be made in electronic (soft-copy) form. Please note that acceptable formats are .pdf, .jpg, .gif, .tif.

I also request that the FBI modify its search parameters as follows: (1) not restrict it to FBI-originated records; (2) include responsive records maintained by the FBI that were created by other federal agencies or by U.S. Government-sponsored contractors; and (3) include responsive records currently in the possession of a U.S. Government contractor for the purposes of records management.

Thank you for your consideration of this appeal.


Dr. Ivan Greenberg
2105 Wallace Ave. #5A
Bronx, NY 10462

Sunday, January 11, 2009

"Dear Editor"

Dec. 17, 2008

Dear Editor:

I was disappointed and puzzled by the rejection of my article (“Information Flow and Political Policing: The FBI’s Troubled Relationship with the FOIA") based on the Reader’s very brief report. I believe this Reader has misunderstood or refused to accept the thesis of the article and the wide scope of the material I marshal to support it. I hope it is not inappropriate for me to write this response.

First, historians and scholars in other fields greatly under use the FOIA. Regarding the FBI , the government holds about 4.75 billion pages of records. Only about 6 million pages have been declassified under the FOIA, as I note in the article. Historians generally neglect the FOIA when its usefulness is critical in writing history in many areas: biography; social movements; the history of the Left and the Right; civil liberties; state power; the law, etc. I hope the publication of my article would encourage scholars to think about the FOIA and use it to get government files. We are talking about several billion pages of primary source material which could recast the writing of the 20th century in very significant ways.

I hoped my article could point to the problems researchers face in using the FOIA. I focus on the FBI exclusively because they are the only agency in the federal government to collect millions of pages of political intelligence. FBI scholars, whether liberal (Athan G. Theoharis), conservative (Richard Gid Powers) or radical (Ward Churchill), all agree that the FOIA is a vital ingredient in studying the activity of the U.S. state and its relation to dissidents and social change. Scholars disagree often in sharp terms about the good guy/bad guy dimension of FBI activity. There are heated disagreements, for example, about J. Edgar Hoover between Theoharis and Powers. Theoharis, who has published several books on the Hoover era and is probably the foremost expert, treats the Bureau as a conservative “bureaucracy” hostile to opening its records, embracing a culture of secrecy to conceal its widespread abuse of power and illegal political intelligence gathering. (Theoharis, ed., A Culture of Secrecy; The FBI and American Democracy) Theoharis privileges the role of Director Hoover, calling him an unaccountable “boss.” He wrties, “Hoover had more to do with undermining American constitutional guarantees than any other political leader before or since.”[Theoharis and Cox, The Boss, p. 17) Powers views FBI secrecy not as an effort to hide misconduct and to stop accountability, but as a necessary ingredient in the fight against internal subversives. Powers claims in Secrecy and Power that Hoover’s “most unassailable achievement was creating one of the great institutions in American Government…Millions were sure that Hoover’s secret power was all that stood between them and sinister forces that aimed to destroy their way of life.” [pp. 2, 489]

I generally follow the political view of Theoharis in my article. I do not believe I “recycle cliches about the authoritarian secrecy of J. Edgar Hoover and his successors.” I cite Theoharis extensively. He is not an ideologue or polemicist like Churchill. I do not believe I have overstated in my article beyond what the secondary and primary source material supports. I quote federal judges, after all. The Reader even says that “99% of AHR readers will agree with the author’s perspective.” If so, where have I overstated in my discussion?

Do I ignore the bureau’s motives? I address this dimension in several ways. If most Americans, as opposed to scholars, give “the Bureau the benefit of the doubt” – this may be because they know very little about FBI history. The FBI prefers to keep it this way. That is the main reason they pose obstacles to the use of the FOIA. They continue to try to suppress the release of information about their own history. I believe I make this point, and refer to others who make this point, in my article. This is not some “radical” view. Even FBI officials acknowledge this, like Scott Hodes who I quote; as well as federal judges in several FOIA lawsuits I quote.

It is not fair for the Reader to want a more “empathetic approach” in the article. For me to place the article in a different context – the FBI does a good job in responding to transparency and openness -- would be a misreading of the secondary and primary material.

I do not presume that the article as it now stands does not need revision. I just think that the Reader’s report does not do it proper service. Historians need a nudge to use the FOIA. That was my intention in submitting the article to the AHR.

Thank you for your consideration.

Ivan Greenberg

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Greenberg v. FBI



Case Number: 1:2008cv01988
Filed: November 18, 2008

Court: District Of Columbia District Court
Office: Freedom of Information Act Office
County: 88888
Presiding Judge: Judge James Robertson

Nature of Suit: Other Statutes - Freedom of Information Act
Cause: U.S. Government Defendant
Jurisdiction: U.S. Government Defendant
Jury Demanded

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Quoted in the press on the FBI

How an obscure FBI rule is ensuring the destruction of ...
Jun 24, 2008 ... According to Ivan Greenberg, an independent researcher who is writing a book ... Based on documents Ivan Greenberg obtained from the FBI, ... - 51k - Cached - Similar pages

Want to know what’s in your FBI file? : Exhibit A Baltimore
Jun 30, 2008 ... That’s the answer Ivan Greenberg of Bronx, N.Y., got when he requested his file in 1998. He’s sent about 85 information requests to the FBI ... - 35k -