Well, there's no way to know for sure whether or not you have an FBI file unless you ask about it, so isn't the advice from this "activist lawyer" rather silly? It assumes that the FBI starts a new file on anyone who files an FOIA request, which may or may not be true but probably isn't. Nearly every high profile activist comes under surveillance at one point or another, although I know some people who have filed FOIA's, certain that they are great threats to the state, only to find out that there is little or nothing on file. Then they are sure that things are being withheld, of course.


On Sat, Jul 2, 2011 at 4:08 PM, Maggie Zhou <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
See the concern below that could be valid.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: isisferal <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Sent: Sat, July 2, 2011 5:58:24 AM
Subject: [EcoRev] Re: File FOIA requests about yourself, fight police state!


On the other hand.... I was told many years ago by an activist lawyer that if you don't already have an FBI file, asking if you have one is a pretty good way to assure that you will.

This is not an action to take lightly.

--- In [log in to unmask], Maggie Zhou <mzhou_us@...> wrote:
> The FBI and CIA keeps files on activists of all stripes, including environmental
> activists. They're treated much like terrorists, viewed as potential threat to
> security.
> While anyone can file a Freedom of Information request, and you do not need to
> be a U.S. citizen, the government may choose to refuse releasing part or all of
> the requested info on national security grounds. Still, that's a higher bar
> they'd have to go through. More info on how to do it here:
> http://www.defendingdissent.org/program/foia.htm
> ----- Forwarded Message ----
> From: Defending Dissent Foundation [mailto:sue.udry@...]
> Sent: Friday, July 01, 2011 5:03 AM
> To: jellingston@...
> Subject: Celebrate July 4th - FOIA Yourself!
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5492/images/bannerheader-1.jpg>
> Dear Jenefer,
> On July 4th, we'll celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Freedom of Information
> Act. As I'm sure you know, FOIA is an essential tool for helping us find out
> what our government is up to, and holding officials accountable.
> But it only works if we use it!
> That's why DDF is encouraging activists to file FOIA requests about themselves
> and the groups they are involved with. You never know what you will uncover,
> and every example of FBI abuse helps us make the case for stricter oversight,
> tighter guidelines and stronger protections.
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=b%2FwLWP9L6uLBxIMH%2BtG8WysOk6g5a0mW>
> That's especially important right now, as the FBI is about to adopt new
> guidelines
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=QkYrNOKvXJQYQ%2BBdO83IpysOk6g5a0mW>
> granting its agents even more power to spy, pry and intimidate us.
> That's right, the FBI is getting ready to take a giant step backward, right back
> into the days of COINTELPRO and J. Edgar Hoover.
> Help us shine the light on FBI abuses by filing your own FOIA request. These
> activists did:
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=aI6xthlakeU2FqQEvLETvnsoadlW04b3>
> * Scott Crow got 440 pages revealing that the FBI had spent 3 years tailing
> him, digging through his trash, tracking his phone calls and trying to find ways
> to harass him;
> * David Goodner <> discovered that the FBI spent nine months spying on Iowa
> peace groups. Hundreds of pages of documents were released showing that the FBI
> had surreptitiously photographed and videotaped activists, staked out their
> homes and accessed their cell phone and motor vehicle records;
> * Brendan Dunn <> filed a FOIA was shocked to discover that his friend and
> fellow activist "John Jacob" was actually a military spy who had infiltrated the
> local peace group;
> And many of you remember that when Frank Wilkinson
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=mByduuO1NDUeERtWeZcnFCsOk6g5a0mW>
> filed a FOIA request in 1986, he got 132,000 pages detailing FBI attempts to
> "neutralize" the Defending Dissent Foundation (when our name was the National
> Committee to Abolish HUAC).
> These liberated files help us paint a picture for Congress of unacceptable FBI
> misconduct. They help us push back against the FBI's claim that they are so
> busy fighting terrorism they don't have time to abuse the First Amendment.
> Click here
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=UdF5Nzqslef1LoJUzmN1misOk6g5a0mW>
> to liberate your file today! You'll find resources and instructions on how to
> file a FOIA with the FBI, the CIA, the NSA...
> I also need to ask you for your help... President Obama and a complicit Congress
> are intent on restoring the FBI to its former self: a lawless agency free to spy
> on Americans who dare to question government policies. But today, we?re looking
> at COINTELPRO on steroids -- with thousands of agents are empowered to
> investigate us, armed with incredibly powerful surveillance tools that would
> make J. Edgar Hoover blush!
> That?s why the Defending Dissent Foundation is more important than ever, and
> why we need your support.
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=YqiySpVz%2F22jK96uKcmfYSsOk6g5a0mW>
> Click here to make a contribution.
> DDF has been leading the lobby effort
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=0kZwMPJVEdO0GCgWHrwxLCsOk6g5a0mW>
> against extending FBI Director Mueller?s term. We?ve reminded Congress
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=EBCeynGgAQddLW9a2py7zisOk6g5a0mW>
> why the term limit was established (to prevent a popular director from
> consolidating power), and that under Director Mueller?s leadership the FBI has
> repeatedly overstepped its authority. This fight is not yet over, and we need
> your support to win it!
> DDF is working with allies to highlight the dangers of planned changes to the
> FBI?s operational guidelines, which lowers the bar to allow 14,000 FBI agents
> to search through your trash, follow you, infiltrate your peace group or
> otherwise invade your life without any suspicion of wrongdoing. Please visit our
> website for more details about the new guidelines, and our work to rollback
> these new authorities.
> DDF supporters and staff made phone calls, sent emails and raised hell
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=igLLH%2Bg2ivOD72SPVQ%2B%2FUCsOk6g5a0mW>
> over the extension of the PATRIOT Act. We didn?t win this fight, but we did win
> more votes against the extension than we have in the past. We?ve made a
> foundation upon which we can build. Of course it won?t happen overnight, and
> we?ll need your help!
> DDF?s FOIA Yourself! project provides activists with the tools to request their
> files from the FBI and other federal agencies, as well as state and local
> agencies. FOIA is an excellent tool to expose government abuses, but only if we
> use it! If you are ready to ask for your file, click here
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=sbdYrxx%2Bv2ZId74AavPGvSsOk6g5a0mW>
> and get started!
> We?ve learned from the experiences of the past that speaking out, standing up
> for our rights and standing together is a powerful antidote to repression. The
> Defending Dissent Foundation is proud to be able to do that, and proud to count
> you as part of our team. Thanks for all your support!
> In Solidarity,
> Sue
> Sue Udry
> Executive Director
> Background:
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=isEcS%2BzzZZ1dLpYBex0VBCsOk6g5a0mW>
> Click here for more information about John Jacob's infiltration of the Olympia
> Port Militarization Resistance
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=3FYebH%2FR7d%2F9OU%2Fh4kQkZCsOk6g5a0mW>
> Click here for more information about the FBI's infiltration of Iowa peace
> groups.
> <http://org2.democracyinaction.org/dia/track.jsp?v=2&c=%2F7jmtTRrH4FRkoRWyapJQisOk6g5a0mW>
> Click here for more information about the FBI investigation and attempts to
> harass Scott Crow.
> Click here to unsubscribe
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Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
New York University

Email:  [log in to unmask]
Web:    michaelbalter.com
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“Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof."
                                                  --John Kenneth Galbraith