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 FAQs - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

FREE - Cuba - United States Secret Diplomacy Documents (1961-1977)

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS



Is this material legal?
Where does the material come from?
Who buys these sets?
What does "narrative pages" mean?
What am I getting?
What are the system requirements?
How do I order?
What is the Freedom of Information Act?
How does the FBI process Freedom of Information Act requests?
How does the CIA process Freedom of Information Act requests?
What do the codes in the margin next to redactions mean?


Is this material legal?

All the material on our CD's have been legally obtained from releases through the Freedom of Information Act or by historical review.


Where does the material come from?

The material comes from the agencies or their descendants as listed in  the descriptions, the National Archives or one of it branches, or the Library of Congress.


Who buys these sets?

Anyone with interests in subject matter of the indiviudal sets. Our sets have been bought by and are most popular with researchers,  professors, lawyers, movie and television producers, writers, police  officers, prosecutors, several chiefs of police, and two state attorneys general.


What am I getting?

You are getting a CD, which contains the images of the original documents as described in the listings. The files uses a free reader that  amongst its features, will allow you to print and zoom in and out  to view documents at different resolutions.


What does "narrative pages" mean?

A narrative page is page which contains discernible information from a writer to its reader. Coversheets, completely redacted pages,  pages from grossly deteriorated microfilm, photo copies of newspaper articles, and the like are not "narrative pages."


What are the system requirements?

Windows: Any system running Windows. The Windows versions of the sets contain all that is needed to access the files.

Macintosh: Any system capable of using Adobe Acrobat Reader. Adobe Acrobat Reader is available free at www.adobe.com

Unix: Any system capable of using Adobe Acrobat Reader. Adobe Acrobat Reader is available free at www.adobe.com. Unix users should order the MAC version.


How do I order?

At the bottom of the page describing each title is a dialog box for ordering a copy of the material.


What is the Freedom of Information Act?

The Freedom of Information Act was enacted in 1966  and most recently amended in 1996. It provides  that any person has the right to request access to federal agency records or information. Federal agencies are required to disclose records upon receiving a written request for them, except for those records that are protected from disclosure by any of the nine exemptions or three exclusions of the Freedom of  Information Act. This right of access is enforceable in court.

The Privacy Act is another federal law regarding federal government records or information about individuals. The Privacy Act establishes certain controls over how the executive branch agencies of the federal government gather, maintain, and disseminate personal information. The Privacy Act also can be used to obtain access to information, but it pertains only to records that federal agencies keep about individual U.S. citizens and lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens. The Freedom of Information  Act, on the other hand, covers all records in the possession and control of federal executive branch agencies.

Although the Freedom of Information Act had been in effect since 1967, it did not apply to investigatory files compiled for law enforcement purposes, thus generally exempting FBI files from public access.

By the end of 1975, amendments to the Freedom of Information Act had become effective and the Privacy Act of 1974 also became effective. The passage of these laws provided for broad access to FBI records which previously had been severely limited.


How does the FBI handle Freedom of Information Act requests?

When a request is received it is logged into a computer and assigned a number for tracking purposes; it is acknowledged; an indices search is conducted to determine if the FBI has responsive records; and the file(s) is located and reviewed to determine if it is fact "ident" or the correct file.

Once a file has been identified as being responsive to a request, it is photocopied, and the work copy is reviewed by an analyst to determine if any portions should be withheld from the requester under any various exemptions permitted by the Freedom of Information - Privacy Acts.  The analyst uses a colored marker to delete any exempt material, writes in the margins the particular exemption cited, and has the work copy re-copied using a photocopier with a special filter. The portions that appeared in translucent color on the work copy are black on the release copy. The release copy is mailed to the requester upon receipt of payment of fees, often reaching hundreds to thousands of dollars and taking several months to years.

This labor intensive process has been repeated thousands of times since 1975. In the past twenty plus years, the FBI has handled over 300,000 requests and over six million pages of FBI documents have been released to the public in paper format.


How does the CIA handle Freedom of Information Act Requests?

Although the processing of requests is managed and directed by the  Coordinator's Office, the CIA's record systems are decentralized and  compartmentalized. This decentralization of records is for security reasons and is done to organize records in the most efficient way for each component to perform its intelligence mission. Therefore, the Coordinator's Office must  analyze incoming requests and determine the appropriate components for tasking. Once the request reaches the internal CIA component,  professional intelligence officers with specialized knowledge and experience perform the following, often in addition to their normal operational or  analytical duties: Search all relevant record systems; Determine whether responsive records exist; Determine application of FOIA and/or PA exemptions; Approve disclosures of all non-exempt records, in whole or part; Forward to Coordinator all records approved for release or requiring coordination or referral within the Agency and to other federal agencies.


What do the codes in the margin next to redactions mean?

The codes in the margins next to redactions refer to exemptions in subsection of title 5, United States Code,  Section 552:

(b)(1) (A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and (B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order;

(b)(2) related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency;

(b)(3) specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than section 552b of this title), provided that such statute (A) requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue, or (B) establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld;

(b)(4) trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential;

(b)(5) inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency;

(b)(6) personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

(b)(7) records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information (A) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, (B) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication, (C) could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, (D) could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a State, local, or foreign agency or authority or any private institution which furnished information on a confidential basis, and, in the case of a record or information compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority in the lawful course of a criminal investigation, or by an agency conducting a national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source, (E) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law, or (F) could reasonably be expected to endanger the life of physical safety of any individual;

(b)(8) contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions;

or

(b)(9) geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.


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