Thursday, May 11, 2017

DoJ Responds to FOIA Appeal, Directs FBI to Search Further for Lash Files

A May 10 email from the Department of Justice stated my appeal for files on Jeffrey Alan Lash "has been processed with the following final disposition: completely reversed/remanded." The email was from the DoJ Office of Information Policy and addressed an appeal filed due to the FBI previously reporting requested records were unable to be identified. From the DoJ email:



Readers will recall my post on the Lash case summarized the 2015 story of a man found dead in a vehicle in the Los Angeles upscale community of Pacific Palisades. The bizarre saga involved a stash of millions of dollars in weapons and ammo, about a quarter of a million dollars in cash, and testimonies that the deceased had claimed to be an ET-human hybrid working with U.S. intelligence agencies, among other odd plot twists. The post went on to become my most viewed by far, and continues to consistently be among the most viewed per week in spite of having been posted two years ago.

Outside Pacific Palisades condo where Lash reportedly lived
in what an LA police captain called the worst case of
weapons hoarding she'd seen in her 27-year law enforcement career  

My initial FOIA request to the FBI for records on the Lash case was filed in 2016. I was subsequently informed by the Bureau in a letter dated Dec. 15, 2016, that records were unable to be identified, but it was added that the "response neither confirms nor denies the existence of your subject's name on any watch lists." It was also clarified to be a standard notification "and should not be taken as an indication that excluded records do, or do not, exist."

The letter further stated, "If you have additional information pertaining to the subject that you believe was of investigative interest to the Bureau, please provide us the details and we will conduct an additional search."

I subsequently wrote, in part, in an appeal dated Feb. 1, 2017:
I therefore point out 'The Guardian', in an article dated July 23, 2015, reported the late Mr. Lash believed he "was a secret government operative under constant surveillance by the CIA, the FBI or both." The article may be viewed at:

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jul/23/jeffrey-alan-lash-firearms-spy
Similarly, 'The Washington Times' reported Lash identified himself to neighbors as "Bob Smith" and "claimed to have worked for either the FBI or CIA." The July 23, 2015, article may be viewed at:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jul/23/jeffrey-alan-lash-space-alien-secret-agent-dead/
'The Los Angeles Times' and many other media outlets reported similar circumstances. Files available for release are therefore requested on any investigations the Bureau may have conducted of Jeffrey Alan Lash, as well as any interest in or relationships with Lash.

Let's hope a further search for responsive records at the FBI turns up something interesting and available for release. For those of you following the political sword rattling taking place between the White House and FBI, it might be worth noting that the letter received in the May 10 email was actually contained in a pdf, and was dated March 23. For whatever reasons, the March letter was not emailed until the day after former Director James Comey was fired. I mention this because it might or might not indicate ripples of the political turbulence reach throughout the FOIA staff and process in some manner. 

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View previous posts on the Jeffrey Alan Lash case and my related FOIA requests

4 comments:

  1. For what it's worth . . . I was a federal contractor for several years. As the Cabinet level Department I worked for saw it's budget continually cut, there were fewer and fewer resources available to handle such things as FOIA requests. It was thought that consolidating the handling of all requests Department-wide through two people in one office would solve the problem of no longer having enough people throughout the Department to respond. This consolidation was hardly efficient and it would take forever to respond to any request. Not only was there a two-person FOIA bottleneck, there also were fewer bodies available to determine what was the appropriate material to send and search for that material, even electronically.

    Granted my Department was pretty far removed from cloak and dagger operations and dealt with public welfare issues, but with every budget cut enacted by a parsimonious Congress, there were fewer and fewer resources available to respond to citizens.

    Americans don't want to pay taxes and they don't want the government to spend any money, yet they still expect a level of responsiveness and service that can't be provided under the current budget paradigm. This might or might not be the case with the FBI (I'm guessing not), but sometimes what goes on in Federal offices is just working stiffs who can't actually do all the tasks that got added to their job descriptions when they lost co-workers because of budget-mandated RIFs. Sometimes, they're just kicking the can down the road.

    Based on what I saw, submitting a FOIA request anywhere in the government now requires not only great patience but also incredible persistence.

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    1. Makes sense to me. The FOIA process is terribly lacking in its current state. I'm under the impression at this point the denial and subsequent appeal should be virtually considered a part of the process. As a matter of fact, in another request in which the appeal is pending, one person I shared the initial denial with told me it was one of the most half-hearted responses they'd ever seen. I think it's unfortunately pretty par for the course, and we can hope it gets better, but, yeah, it can take years for a request to bear meaningful fruit.

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  2. LOL! I'll save you the trouble of filing those FOIA requests: Lash WASN'T an alien hybrid OR a government agent. Aside from it being absurdity on wheels...why would a government agent need to horde guns OR be watched by the FBI or CIA? COME ON!

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    1. Those of us that aren't as smart as you can think of a few more scenarios of potential interest.

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