Monday, July 02, 2007

LO Files FOIA Requests on Smith's Involvement in Fish Kill

As of today I have filed five Freedom of Information Act requests with various agencies of the federal government, asking each for their communications received by or sent to Senator Gordon Smith between February 2001 and March 2002. The intent is to discover the extent of Smith's active role in the decisions leading to the worst adult salmon fish kill in recorded Western history.

The requests have gone to:
  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service, Region 1 (OR) and HQ separately
    (FWS was responsible for decisions regarding the suckerfish under the Endangered Species Act, and participated in the initial ruling that cut water to farmers)
  • The National Marine Fisheries Service, part of NOAA
    (NMFS was responsible for the same decisions as above, concerning coho salmon)
  • The Department of Interior, Secretary's Office and Inspector General's Office separately
    (Interior Secretary Gale Norton oversaw the agencies involved in making the Klamath call; her Deputy Chief of Staff was cited in the WaPo series on Cheney as the woman "handling" the issue for DOI. The Inspector General issued a short finding of no influence in 2003 in response to a request for investigation by Senator Kerry)
A total of five requests have been sent. I have asked for a rolling return of items, meaning they'll send me what they have as they find it--but I'm not holding my breath. They are supposed to respond within 20 working days as to their ability to comply; the actual time to receive anything could be months, and what we get back could be exactly nothing. But you don't find out if you don't try.

Below is an example of one of the letters:
July 3, 2007
Office of the Secretary
Sue Ellen Sloca
MS-120, SIB
1951 Constitution Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20240

Ms Sloca:
Under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, I am requesting copies of all correspondence from February 1, 2001 to March 31, 2002 with U.S. Senator Gordon Smith and his staff regarding water use, endangered species protections or agricultural irrigation in the Klamath River water basin.

This request includes communications from the Senator, his Senate Washington D.C. and Oregon offices and any members of his campaign committees, as well as all officials within your office. Communications covered include, but are not limited to, mail correspondence, email, facsimiles or phone logs.

For your purposes in filling this request, please consider me under the category of “all other organizations,” as defined by the Freedom of Information Act. If there are any fees for copying or searching for the records I have requested, please inform me of the cost prior to searching or copying, and only if the total exceeds $40.

If all or any part of this request is denied, please cite the specific exemption which you believe justifies your refusal to release the information and inform me of your agency's administrative appeal procedures available to me under the law.

Please provide all information on a rolling basis if possible. I appreciate your handling of this request as quickly as possible and I look forward to hearing from you within 20 working days, as the law stipulates. I can be reached at the email address "", or by phone at (xxx) xxx-xxxx if there any questions about my request.
[torridjoe--no, I did not put that down!]

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