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FAS Note: This letter from the CIA Inspector General responds to a complaint submitted by FAS alleging that continued classification of 50 year old historical intelligence budget data was a violation of the Freedom of Information Act that represented official misconduct.
Central Intelligence Agency
Office of the Inspector General
Washington, DC 20505

27 March 2001

Mr. Steven Aftergood
Director, Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
307 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002

Dear Mr. Aftergood:

This is in response to your letter to Inspector General Britt Snider dated December 20, 2000. The letter concerns your 1995 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to CIA for historical intelligence budget data, such as aggregate budget totals, for the years 1947 through 1970, and states that the Agency's recent denial of the information you requested appears to be official misconduct and a willful violation of the requirements of the FOIA.

As a result of your letter, Mr. Snider directed that a team on our Inspection Staff conducting a review of the declassification process determine how your request was handled. The team's review of the handling of your request found no evidence of any "official misconduct" or "willful violation" of the requirements of the FOIA. While the processing of your request was affected by what appear to be unreasonable delays, our inspection team found that responsible officials were knowledgeable of, and ultimately complied with, Agency regulations and procedures for reaching a decision on your appeal.

As you know, the FOIA provides a judicial recourse to dissatisfied requesters, and that avenue has been available to you. In the absence of evidence of bad faith, misconduct or abuse of authority, however, Inspectors General must decline to intervene in FOIA disputes. To do otherwise would interpose the Inspector General function into what are essentially national security policy decisions. Neither the Congress nor the Executive branch has conferred authority on Inspectors General to perform such a role.


Rebecca R. Donegan
Acting Inspector General

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