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NRO Uses “Operational File” Exemption to Stifle FOIA Requests

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  1. Freedom of Information
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The National Reconnaissance Office, which designs and builds satellites, was granted a FOIA exemption for its “operational files” in 2002. A 2003 agency memo interprets that exemption to broadly include budget, policy and planning data. NRO recently cited the exemption in turning down a request from the Federation of American Scientists for unclassified portions of its budget report to Congress, a report similar to one the NRO had released a year ago. FAS has filed suit, saying the documents it seeks are routine administrative and historical information. Congress is considering giving a similar “operational files” exemption to the Defense Intelligence Agency as part of the Defense Department’s 2006 authorization bill. (7/14/05)