February 5, 2021
via email

ODNI Chief FOIA Officer:

This is an appeal of the partial denial of my ODNI Freedom of Information Act 
request Case DF-2020-00225.

I had requested a copy of the FY2019 ODNI annual report on security clearance 
determinations. By letter dated January 26, 2021, ODNI provided a copy of the 
requested document, but with significant redactions. To justify the redactions, 
ODNI cited FOIA exemption (b)(3) and specifically 50 USC 3024(i)(1) that 
requires protection of intelligence sources and methods.

I believe that exemption was improperly applied in this case, and I therefore 
appeal the partial denial of my request. The bases for my appeal are as follows.

1. The redacted information does not consist of intelligence sources and methods.

ODNI redacted, for example, the number of contractors and government employees 
that hold security clearances at various levels, and the number of clearances 
that were denied, or revoked.

This information is not an intelligence source. Neither is it an intelligence 
method, as ODNI has previously acknowledged.

2. ODNI itself has released similar information in the past.

On multiple occasions, ODNI has released previous iterations of this security 
clearance report without redacting the numbers of contractor and government 
employees, or the number of clearance denials and revocations. See, for example, 
the FY 2015 report on security clearance determinations that is posted on the ODNI 

If this information had truly constituted intelligence sources and methods, 
then the DNI would have been obliged by statute to protect it. He did not do so.

That is because the redacted information is not an intelligence source and 
is not an intelligence method.

3. The President has directed national security agencies such as ODNI to 
increase their transparency.

In a February 4, 2021 National Security Memorandum that is posted on the 
White House website, President Biden wrote:

"In a democracy, the public deserves as much transparency as possible 
regarding the work of our national security institutions, consistent 
with legitimate needs to protect sources and methods and sensitive 
foreign relationships. The revitalization of our national security and 
foreign policy workforce requires a recommitment to the highest standards 
of transparency."

But in the present case, ODNI is offering less transparency with respect to 
the FY2019 report than it did with respect to the FY2015 report. This is inconsistent 
with the President's direction to agencies.


For all of these reasons, we appeal the partial denial of our FOIA request.

Thank you for your consideration.

Steven Aftergood
Federation of American Scientists
1112  16th  Street NW, Suite 400
Washington, DC  20036

email: saftergood@fas.org
voice: (202)454-4691