by: David Harris-Gershon on July 6th, 2013 | 29 Comments »
Clayton Seymour, a 36-year-old IT specialist from Hilliard, Ohio, recently sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the NSA, curious as to whether any data about him was being collected.
What he received in response made his blood boil.
“I am a generally law abiding citizen with nothing I can think of that would require monitoring,” Seymour wrote to me, “but I wanted to know if I was having data collected about me and if so, what.”
So Seymour sent in an FOIA request. Weeks later, a letter from the NSA arrived explaining that he was not entitled to any information. “When I got the declined letter, I was furious,” he told me. “I feel betrayed.”
Seymour had decided to request his NSA file after coming across a recent post of mine instructing Americans on how to properly request such files from the FBI and NSA. A Navy vet and two-time Obama voter who supported the President’s platform of greater governmental transparency, Seymour was shocked by the letter he received.
The letter, which first acknowledges the media coverage surrounding its surveillance systems, quickly moves to justify why none of that data can be obtained by an American citizen in a standard FOIA request:
Seymour isn’t the only one who has recently had an FOIA request denied by the NSA – dozens of citizens have emailed me to say they’ve received a similar, if not identical, letter. And it’s clear from the exemption the NSA is using that every single American is having their FOIA requests similarly rejected.Unjustly so.