The Minnesota Committee to Stop FBI Repression organized an event on December 21, 2010, where many people came together to request our FBI files under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The goal of the event was to try to find out how broad surveillance and harassment of progressive movements go.
For those that weren’t able to go to the event, you can still participate too — you can request your own FBI file. It’s quick and easy!
To make it as easy as possible, we have the two forms for you here that you need. Here’s all you do:
Requesting your individual file
Print out two copies of each form — the FBI Privacy Waiver – Certificate of Identity, and your Request Letter – Individual – Rationale for Request. Then just fill in the blanks with your personal information, then sign and send both forms in to the two addresses listed on the forms themselves.
Requesting a file on an organization or topic
Fill out the FOIA Request Letter – Organization and mail it to both addresses on the form itself.
We want to know how broadly the FBI is spying on, infiltrating and trying to disrupt the anti-war and international solidarity movements, and progressive movements in general. Lets all find out together who they’re spying on, so we can expose how broad their antics go.
Some details: After you make your request, you should get a letter from the FBI fairly quickly acknowledging that they received your request. They may then write back saying they don’t have a file on you, or they may send back a small amount of information and say they won’t send anything more. You can appeal this, to try to find out as much as you can about what your government is doing.
The FBI will often assume that a requester is only interested in getting records if the requester is the main subject of an FBI file. But “suspicious activity reports” and the myriad of other info the FBI has on people would normally be contained in other than “main subject files”. Even though the request letter explicitly states the requester wants any record wherein the individual (or topic) is referenced (as well as main subject files), the FBI tends to continue with its presumption telling people they are not the main subjects of any FBI file. And this tends to mislead requesters. Note that there is an administrative process for obtaining records through the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act but once that administrative process is exhausted, requesters can file suit in federal district court to seek judicial review regarding any agency withholding.