FOIA & Brussell
In March of 2015, I submitted FOIA requests to the CIA, Department of the Army, and FBI for the release of records on the subject of Mae Brussell. Ms. Brussell is an iconic researcher that not only left us an impressive body of research on political assassinations; perhaps her greatest contribution as an investigative journalist is raising critical questions on some of the most significant events of the 20th century.
I submitted FOIA requests to the following U.S. government bodies with exceedingly poor results:
CIA: “With respect to any other records, in accordance with section 3.6(a) of Executive Order 13526, the CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request. The fact of the existence or nonexistence of requested records is currently and properly classified and is intelligence sources and methods information that is protected from disclosure by section 6 of the CIA Act of 1949, as amended, and section 102A(iXl) of the National Security Act of 1947 , as amended. Therefore, your request is denied pursuant to FOIA exemptions (bX1) and (bX3). An explanation of exemptions is enclosed.” Neither confirm nor deny is termed a Glomar response. Response: CIA_final
Department of the Army: “To determine the existence of Army intelligence investigative records responsive to your request, a check was made of the automated Defense Central lndex of lnvestigations (DCll). This index reflects the holdings of all investigative elements within the Department of Defense. As a result of the DCll check, no record responsive to your request was located.” Response: Army_final
FBI: The Bureau released a disappointing 42 pages. Some of the material released include an extortion attempt investigated by the FBI’s San Francisco office as well as Brussell’s concern to the Sacramento office that her name might appear on a “death list” (p. 18). In this same document (10/22/75), it’s noted that “BRUSSEL is known to various police agencies on the Monterey Peninsula as a chronic complainer.” Of note too is a letter written by Brussell (November 15, 1975) that discusses her inclusion on a “surveillance list” after her work on the Watergate scandal was published. P. 23 is a handwritten letter that states “Mae is soon to have a serious accident”; pages 41-42 discuss a visit to Brussell’s home by “representatives of the U.S. Secret Service”; this document states that Brussell reports she was never fully informed as to the purpose of the interview, but taped the encounter. Secret Service agents quizzed Brussell about weapons in her possession, but Brussell replied “the only thing that she does have in the way of a weapon is a paring shears and hardly feels that that presents a threat to anyone.”
I appealed to DOJ’s Office of Information Policy to gain release of additional records and rec’d the following response: OIP_denial
Under FOIA in October, I requested records dealing with Ms. Brussell’s radio shows that broadcast in the Bay area in the 1970s-1980s. Many of these shows are fully available on YouTube, World Watchers, and other places on the Web. In November 2016, I received a we “were unable to identify main file records responsive to the FOIA” from the FBI on the radio shows.
I encourage researchers to submit their own requests on Ms. Brussell and her radio shows.