Jun 182015

In a letter dated June 8, 2015, the FBI responded to my request for a copy of the April 6, 2010, agreement between the FBI an Harris Corporation. This April 6, 2010, agreement is referenced in the approval of law enforcement agency’s non-disclosure agreements that are required before the law enforcement agency can purchase a cell site simulator such as a StingRay, KingFish, or HailStorm from Harris Corporation.

The letter from the FBI states,

Please be advised that upon reviewing the substantive nature of your request, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records responsive to your request pursuant to FOIA exemption (b) (7) (E) [5 U.S.C.§552 (b)(7)(E)]. The mere acknowledgment of whether or not the FBI has any such records in and of itself would disclose techniques, procedures, and/or guidelines that could reasonably be expected to risk of circumvention of the law. Thus, the FBI neither confirms nor denies the existence of any records.

However, although the FBI will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the April 6, 2010, agreement, it is referenced in letters from the FBI to Harris Corporation dated June 14, 2012 and February 13, 2013. This refusal to confirm or deny the existence of a document or specific information is known as a Glomar response, named for the Central Intelligence Agency’s response to a FOIA request about its Global Marine front company and its attempt to salvage a Soviet submarine. A portion of the text from both letters states,

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has an approved non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in place with the captioned law enforcement agency. In accordance with the cited restricted software agreement and the April 6, 2010 agreement between the FBI and the Harris Corporation, your notification to the FBI of the agency’s intent to purchase, and our execution of the NDA, meets the FBI’s advance coordination requirement. Therefore, the Harris Corporation is permitted to sell the state-and-local version of the Stingray product with the restricted software to the…