I filed a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA, for those in the business of asking for records) on June 25th with the National Security Administration, trying to see if they had any information about my phone number (and/or any metadata related to it). I got the response a few days ago. I’ve been moving, so I just got around to actually looking at it.
Safe to say, having a letter in your mailbox that says “National Security Agency” and your name on it is a bit jarring, especially if you forgot you filed a public records request.
In short, Pamela N. Phillips, the chief FOIA officer for the NSA, denied my request “because the fact of the existence or non-existence of responsive records is a currently and properly classified matter in accordance with Executive Order 13526, as set forth in Subparagraph (c) of Section 1.4.” And then it listed more legalese about the U.S. Code and other stuff I don’t understand.
It also explained what the USA PATRIOT Act and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Courts allow them to do, after explaining “there has been considerable speculation about two NSA intelligence programs in the press/media.”
This was an also interesting bit:
“To the extent that your request seeks any metadata/call detail records on you and/or any telephone numbers provided in your request, or seeks intelligence information on you, we cannot acknowledge the existence or non-existence of such metadata or call detail records pertaining to the telephone numbers you provided or based on your name. Any positive or negative response on a request-by-request basis would allow our adversaries to accumulate information and draw conclusions about NSA’s technical capabilities, sources, and methods. Our adversaries are likely to evaluate all public responses to requests such as yours, our adversaries’ compilation of the information provided would reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.”
It then gave me who to contact for an appeal of their rejection, as well as some information if they’ve misinterpreted by request and I’m someone who is affiliated with the NSA and looking for records who to properly contact. Pretty interesting, and looks quite similar to other responses.