Thursday, November 25, 2021

A DIA FOIA AATIP/AAWSAP response - nearly four years on

Searching for information

One of the earliest Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests regarding the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), of which I am aware, was submitted by Melbourne researcher Paul Dean. After seeing the initial announcement of the establishment of To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science in October 2017, Paul submitted an FOIA request to the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the USA on 15 October 2017, even though he did not know the exact name of the program. The request was assigned the number 18-F-0082 and read as follows:

"I am requesting documents which would include mission statements, program overviews, fact sheets, program briefs etc. relating to the so called Unidentified Aerial Threats for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The name of this program (Unidentified Aerial Threats) may not be the EXACT title. However, to aid you, the manager or director of the program was a Luis Elizondo. He also served as the Director for the National Programs Special Management Staff in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. What I am essentially looking for are documents which would describe the program findings and goals, any high level and general correspondence with interested parties, fact sheets and summaries of the program history, and any other records that describe what the program has achieved, what resources it used, etc."

The four year's later response

On 24 November 2021 Paul received an email attachment from the FOIA Division, Pentagon, Department of Defense. With Paul's consent I provide an image of the attached letter. Note his address shown here is an old one. 

"This is a final response to your October, 15, 2017 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, a copy of which is enclosed for your convenience. We received your request on October 16, 2017, and assigned it FOIA case number 18-F-0082...Please note that your request for information pertaining to the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) was misdirected to this office for processing. This FOIA office only processes requests for the office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff. There is no central FOIA processing point for the entire Department of Defense (DoD). FOIA processing is decentralized and delegated to those officials of the Military Department and various DoD Components who generate and/or maintain the records being sought or reviewed. In this instance, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) which operates its own FOIA program, would have cognizance over the information you have requested. In consideration of this fact, we have forwarded your request to DIA for their direct response to you. For your convenience, contact information for DIA FOIA.....This action closes your request with this office....."

Enter the DIA

Also the same day, Paul got another email; this time from the DIA, which read:

"This email is to inform you that we received a consultation from OSD in regards to an FOIA request you had submitted to the agency. As a result they found there were no equities within their agency and referred your request to the Defense Intelligence Agency. This request, was also submitted by you on March 28, 2018 to our agency. For this reason, the consultation referral was not opened and no further action regarding that consultation will be taken, as it is a duplicate. Please note, your current request with DIA is FOIA 022-2018....This case is currently being tasked out to other elements within the agency and are currently being processed. We will make every effort to process your request as soon as possible and solicit your patience and understanding. However, please keep in mind we are backlogged with over 1,900 FOIA cases and work on the cases based on date they are received and complexity of each case."

In short, please wait a little while longer

So, nearly four years on, and Paul's 28 March 2018 separate request directed to the DIA is still being processed. 

The DIA FOIA request log

The DIA maintains an FOIA request log for each year, the latest available being 2018. An inspection of the 2018 log shows Paul's DIA request. This time asking for documents about the Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP) as by then he was aware of the difference between AATIP and AAWSAP.

I welcome hearing from anyone who has had a positive response from their 2017/2018 DIA FOIA request for AATIP/AAWSAP documents. My own such requests still await a final response. 

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