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Reprinted from the FOI-L List at Syracuse U. with the author's permission.
LACK OF TRANSPARENCY REGARDING THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC WIRETAPPING CENTER
If you were to ask the FBI for a copy of its records on the authority and goals and the annual budget for the National Domestic Communications Assistance Center, the FBI will respond that it has 554 pages that are being withheld. The FBI claims it must withhold every page, every paragraph for various reasons including personal privacy, deliberative process and that it would tend to disclose law enforcement techniques not known to the general public.
Not a single page or paragraph is released, despite the requirement under the FOIA to release all segregable portions. Every scrap of budget information is suppressed.
This is somewhat disturbing in light of the national surveillance / wiretapping strategy outlined in summary form here:
The strategy makes the FBI the supplier of a variety of advanced tools and solutions for electronic surveillance to a host of agencies, apparently with almost no oversight. The protocols for oversight and regulation to ensure appropriate use of these powerful tools appear sorely deficient or even missing.
It is commonly accepted that the use of powerful, intrusive surveillance tools requires someone to watch the watchers, to prevent abuses that frequently taken place. Such oversight is needed. The first step is some measure of transparency over budget and core documents of the type being kept cloistered.
No one has yet challenged the decision to clamp complete secrecy on all aspects of what contains the elements of a significant civil liberties intrusion. If you would like to inquire yourself, here is the contact information:
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Attn: FOI/PA Request
Record/Information Dissemination Section
170 Marcel Drive
Winchester, VA 22602-4843
Fax: (540) 868-4391/4997