Helpful FOIA (and Privacy Act) Facts

I received a nice email today from a gentleman with the American Immigration Center who found my Learning Experience post helpful. (In case you don’t want to read the whole post, I’ll give you the bullet point version).

  • Filed a FOIA to the CIA that didn’t include all the necessary information back in April 2011.
  • Got denied. Was humbled.
  • Filed again, got my docs (they had been requested before, so it was relatively quick).
  • Don’t do what I did – check out these links. (Two years later, and they’re LOTS better).

The man who emailed me shared a comprehensive list of facts that’s worth reviewing if you’re ever going to file a FOIA request. Here’s another helpful link if you’re FOIA request is specific to the CIA. Hope this can be helpful for others, as well.

Thanks for visiting!

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Miami’s Ron Tammen Mystery Continues

It has been 59 years since Ronald Henry Tammen’s disappearance from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio April 19, 1953.

Share this post and keep Tammen in your thoughts – the trail to the truth continues.

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I Didn’t Know Ron Tammen, but …

Courtesy of Lane Public Library

The fact that there are as many as 100,000 missing persons in the country at one time is terribly sad to me. The fact that Ron Tammen is one of them, and has been since 1953, breaks my heart. I feel a personal connection to Tammen merely through our alma mater, Miami University. I’ll graduate in 2012, but Tammen will have never received a diploma … although I like to think there’s still a chance.

In addition to missing persons, there are 4,400 unidentified remains found every year – 1,000 of which remain unidentified after one year. The National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) have even more numbers on their website. I can’t help but think about the missing persons’ family and friends, and how helpless they could feel not knowing where their friend or loved one is, if they are okay, when they’ll know what happened to that person, why they left or why they were taken from them … the emotions are overwhelming for me to think about – I can’t imagine losing someone this way, even if it was temporarily.

Contributed Photo

Every so often I check in on Katelyn Markham, who went missing from her townhouse in Fairfield in August. WKRC in Cincinnati published a story where Katelyn’s father was interviewed about a benefit for his daughter October 22 that would generate money for the search groups that would be invited back. On October 20, WLWT published a story that said Katelyn was still missing.

What happened to these people? How can we help their families and friends? NamUs is one effort, journalism is another – Jerry Mitchell is an investigative reporter at The Clarion-Ledger in Mississippi who continues to be a watchdog for (often times) cold murder cases from the civil rights era and has prompted the arrests of several Klansmen and officials looking deeper into these crimes. And people like Virginia Braden, a licensed private investigator and victim’s advocate in Kentucky, are incredible.

I don’t have all the answers, but I know it can’t hurt to write a post like this, or share a story on Facebook or Twitter.

Links:

Jerry Mitchell’s Blog

Virginia Braden’s Website

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That Euphoric Moment When You Realize …

I have to guess everyone has an unexpected plane ride in their lives. Many times I feel I’ve had an unexpected plane ride when my passengers decide they want to be friends during that flight, and maybe pass along some information or wisdom to the next guy. On my way back from New Orleans, I met a fascinating man from Port St. Lucie, Florida who reminded me why I love investigative journalism.

Dan *Smith asked me all about my life: my school, my interests, my family, my career, my aspirations … It was cool. And being asked again why I love journalism or why I want to do investigative reporting and what that really means is the most rewarding reminder that you know exactly what you want to be doing with your life. Just for a moment, then it’s gone. I wanted to record the euphoria this time, though.

“It’s really the cold cases that interest me, actually … ” I tell him all about Ron Tammen, the Miami University student who went missing from his residence hall in 1953. He challenges me. Why is it important? Who cares? What will it take to find out what happened to him? I couldn’t believe this guy was really making me think hard about my answers – and having to fight for my own cause made me realize how much I love digging up anything I possibly can to offer some explanation to Ron Tammen’s disappearance. I love it. And now it’s recorded – the euphoric moment where you realize you love something you’re doing.

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Katelyn Markham Update

http://www.wlwt.com/news/29119482/detail.html

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Active Missing Person Alert

Twenty-one-year-old Katelyn Markham was last seen August 13 in Fairfield, Ohio. Her fiance was the last person to report seeing her.

Kentucky private investigator Virginia Braden just updated her website with the full article.

According to Braden, “Fairfield police are currently investigating her disappearance. If you have seen Katelyn or have any information about this case, please contact Detective Rebecca Irvin at  (513) 867-6094.”
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Learning Experience

By Amelia Carpenter

Everything is a learning experience.

I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for “records or information on Ronald Henry Tammen, Ronald Henry Tammen, Junior and Richard Tammen” that was processed April 30, 2011. Now I feel dumb. The CIA wrote back in a letter dated May 16, 2011 denying my request because it did not include all the necessary information. The CIA requires full names, dates, places of birth and citizenship status. In addition, the CIA collects fees only after the first two hours of search time and beyond 100 pages of reproduction. The date expired while I was traveling this summer, so I’ll have to refile a request with them to see if I can gather documents. It’ll be fun to find out what happens.

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