Today we will study how a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) should be introduced into an investigation. We will use one of three FOIA's used by a investigative journalist investigating our imprisoned POW Hero Leader "Groucho" General Jack Idema and we can add this is one of the real reasons why a lot of the documents especially Jack DD214 many of which have seen surfaced in the first place. Its not nice to play terrorist hunter-killer, humanitarian and journalist! Which is what our imprisoned POW Hero Leader "Groucho" General Jack Idema was doing in Affghanistan in his early years. This FOIA also tells a interesting story and elaborate tale which many should find interesting, perplexing and a search for the Truth! This FOIA was sent to some 28 US Federal Agencies between the period of March 2003 and August 2003. We will note it has nothing to do with our imprisoned POW Hero Leader "Groucho" General Jack Idema's current situation, but it has a lot to do with the Idema Story. Remember Junior CapeCrusaders never ever ask a question you don't have the answers to.
So let's take a look:
Under the authority of the Freedom of Information Act I request all information available in the military records contents of systems of records and statistical records of Jonathan Keith Idema, Social Security Number (yes we have it and no you won't). This request includes all active duty reserve, or other military service, training, performance, disciplinary and any other available records to include any available official photos. Justification why this disclosure is authorized will not discuss the particular purpose, circumstances, and proposed use because the FOIA states these are not to be considered. In addition, the identity of the requesting party has no bearing on the merits of his or her FOIA request. I will also not cover any personal interest in the information as the Supreme Court approved the majority view that the requester’s personal interest is irrelevant. The justification for disclosure will focus on showing the numerous ways the FOIA authorizes disclosure of the requested materials. All documents supporting this request (to include audio files of interviews) are contained on the CD’s enclosed to facilitate review.
There will be several commercial entities referenced in the application of disclosure. The main ones include Point Blank News (hereafter referred to as PBN News), promoted to the public through www.pbnnews.tv ; Never Give Up Films (hereafter referred to as NGU Films), promoted to the public through NGU, LLC and www.nevergiveupfilms.net ; Sargie: The Ultimate Action Animal (hereafterreferred to as Sargie.com), promoted to the public through www.sargie.com ; The Hunt For Bin Laden Group, LLC (hereafter referred to as HFBL Group), promoted to the public through The Hunt For Bin Laden, LLC and thehuntforbinladen.com ; Counterr Group and also known as Counterr Group Academy (hereafter referred to as Counterr Group), promoted to the public through www.counterrgroup.org , and CTG Media. In addition, www.thehuntforbinladen.com is listed by the publisher of the book The Hunt For Bin Laden (published by Random House) as the official Internet site to promote and sell that book and related merchandise. To avoid repetition during the explanation of the numerous ways this requested disclosure is authorized, CTG Media, PBN News, NGU Films, Sargie.com, HFBL Group, and Counterr Group are all business entities linked to and/or operated by Jonathan Keith Idema. In many cases, Gary Scurka and the woman Mr. Idema identifies as his wife (Viktoria Runningwolf Idema) also have financial interest in these businesses. There is no known or implied connection to Random House other than that normally found between authors and publishers. Mr. Idema’s connection to these businesses entities is re-enforced by numerous facts.All businesses (CTG Media, PBN News, NGU Films, Sargie.com, HFBL Group, Counterr Group) operate using the same mailing address (P.O. Box 691, Fayetteville, North Carolina 28302). Never Give Up Films, LLC, The Hunt for Bin Laden LLC, Counter-Terrorism- Inc are all corporations registered in the Sates of Delaware through various registered agents, the state and status of registration for CTG Media and PBN News are unknown although the state of Delaware has no record for them.
Mr. Idema is listed as the administrative, technical, and billing contact for PBN News.tv and Nevergiveupfilms.net. He is also the administrative and technical contact for Sargie.com. Mr. Idema is listed as affiliated with PBN News by his postings to Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. and CTG Media by his affiliation. Mr. Idema’s wife Viktoria Runningwolf Idema (hereafter referred to as Viktoria Runningwolf) is the administrative contact for Sargie.com. She is the listed Director of Sales for the Al Queda training tapes Mr. Idema is selling through PBN News and as the publicist for PBN News. She is also the publicist for Robin Moore’s Book The Hunt For Bin Laden and the afore mentioned official Internet site. Mr. Scurka is also directly connected in various ways to include affiliation with CTG Media and being listed by NGU Films as the producer as well as a point of contact for PBN News and CTG Media.With Direct financial interest and control of these businesses and websites Mr. Idema has control and oversight of their actions and contents, particularly regarding any of his own privacy he desires to be protected. As his wife, and often publicist, Viktoria Runningwolf will act in his best interest to include protecting his privacy where he desired it. The use and publication of much of the information used in this request by those businesses and on those sites supports our position Mr. Idema actively supports disclosure of information regarding his military record, government related and business matters to solicit funds from the public, do business with the government, and in making himself a public figure so he has no expectation of privacy regarding that information.
This request for disclosure is supported by facts the author and contributors published in the book The Hunt for Bin Laden. This book is listed by its publisher, Random House, as nonfiction and marketed as nonfiction as shown on Random House’s website. Based on this classification re-sellers are marketing the book throughout the world as nonfiction. Mr. Idema asserts its contents to be true in numerous interviews promoting the book. The cumulative result is that the author, contributors, publishers, publicists, and their agents represent the book and its contents to be nonfiction. The importance of this affirmation is that a work of nonfiction in this case refers to prose. By accepted definition, nonfiction is defined as "prose that is not fictitious: prose literature that consists of factual information rather than works of imagination." The book’s authors, contributors, publicists, publisher, and agents assert the information contained in it to be fact. For the purpose of this request, the information used for this book to justify release must be taken as fact. As directly relates to Mr. Idema’s significant role in contributing to contents of The Hunt for Bin Laden, NEWSMAX reported 15 March 2003 on interviews with both Mr. Idema and Mr. Moore that "Special Ops and Green Beret Jack Idema. Along with former Green Beret author Robin Moore they wrote an excellent chronicle of the war in Afghanistan called "The Hunt for Bin Laden" [emphasis added].
A review of interviews and quotes related to the book supports the conclusion Keith Idema participated in them willingly and directly provided the information published about his military and business career, actions directly for or supported by the government of the United States, and his actions and operations in Afghanistan. There is also no question that the person in the book The Hunt For Bin Laden and various media interviews identified as "Jack" is, in fact, Mr. Idema. When he sold video tapes represented as showing Al Queda terrorsist training camps and activities in Afghanistan, Mr. Idema received global press coverage. On 12 January 02 The Boston Globe specifically identified Mr. Idema as "Jack" in its article. The Reporter wrote "The tapes were recently discovered in the possession of Northern Alliance forces by J. Keith Idema, a former US Army special forces noncommissioned officer and counter terrorism specialist who now advises the Afghan military. Idema who is called Jack in Afghanistan [Emphasis added]…." Following that report, on 12 February 02 United Press international (UPI) distributed a report about aUnited States Military advisor to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan saying he requested not to be identified.Mr. Idema himself notified numerous of his friends and associates 16 Feb 02 from Afghanistan that he was Jack and was upset the UPI report did not refer to him as such.
Mr. Idema’s e-mail, dated 16 February 2002 (which Mr. Idema sent to a reporter at the NY Post Newspaper) he included the UPI report so there could be no mistake as to the reference for his comments. He wrote "the article is total bullshit about asking not to be named, it was supposed to refer to Jack…"
This unequivocally shows Mr. Idema’s self-promotion as "Jack" and desire to have his identity, actions as Jack, and military background publicized to the public and reported on by the media. In February 2002 a representative of the Australian press interviewed Mr. Idema in Afghanistan. In that interview his is shown and identified as "Jack".
The synopsis for the interview, published to a global audience on the Internet, contains a photo of their reporter Eric Cambell standing with Mr. Idema and states "He’s [Campbell] guided by former Green Beret Special Forces soldier Jack Idema". In a televised interview with MSNBC 5 March 2003 the interviewer continually refers to Mr. Idema as "Jack".Another MSNBC interview 5 March introduced Mr. Idema as"Jack Idema… his adventures are chronicled, along with others, in the new book ‘The Hunt For Bin Laden’ by renowned author Robin Moore." This not only identifies Mr. Idema as "Jack" in Afghanistan but the "Jack" in Robin Moore’s book. The New York Post – the same publication Mr. Idema sent his 16 February 03 e-mail to – published a report 13 March 03 on a plot to kill former President Clinton with a direct quote from "Green Beret Keith ‘Jack’ Idema".
Some of the most conclusive proof Mr. Idema is the person referred to as "Jack" in The Hunt For Bin Laden comes from the book itself. Mr. Idema is the only "Jack" that appears to be in the book. In the introduction, author Robin Moore writes "Great insight into the workings and politics of the Northern Alliance wasobtained from a special advisor to the United Front Military Forces of Afghanistan, known only as ‘Jack’."
The book itself unquestionably identifies "Jack". On the cover of the book is a photo of Mr. Idema. The book credit printed on the inside cover of the first edition clearly states "flanked by Panshir commandos, Jack, a special advisor to the Northern Alliance, crosses the desert near Mazar-e-Sharif." How Mr. Idema is dressed in the photo matches how he is dressed on the promotional cover for the book An Army of One that alleges it will, when published, detail his actions in Afghanistan. It also matches photographs of Mr. Idema with Dan Rather when CBS II interviewed Mr. Idema in Afghanistan. In that interview Dan Rather identified Mr. Idema as "Jack". The book completes the link to Mr. Idema as Jack, specifically regarding the interview with Dan Rather "But America’s first real glimpse of who Jack was came through the eyes of Dan Rather of CBS Evening News and 60 Minutes II fame."
The book also provides Mr. Idema’s own reason why he used "Jack". Per The Hunt For Bin Laden, "Like most of the active-duty special operators, Idema would later be known only by a single nickname."The final evidence that Mr. Idema is the "Jack" described in The Hunt For Bin Laden and other published and broadcast accounts comes, again, from Mr. Idema himself.In a broadcast on NECN following his return from Afghanistan, Mr. Idema is announced as "Keith ‘Jack’ Idema." The interviewer addresses the issue directly. He tells Mr. Idema "You were identified in the book. You were identified only as "Jack" and subsequently now that you’re back and on the tour your true identity has become known."
Mr. Idema clearly supports the correctness of the interviewer’s statement and disclosure of his identity as Jack by 60 Minutes II and other published reports when he responds: "I divulged that after Dan Rather had tapes on 60 minutes on me."The cumulative effect of these facts is that by published reports and his own admission Mr. Idema is the individual Identified as "Jack" in The Hunt For Bin Laden.
In October 2002 Jonathan Keith Idema was working for a NGO named Partners International Foundation along with Knightsbridge International as a volunteer to support humanitarian programs in Northern Afghanistan. Mr. Idema was joined in this request by Mr. Gary Scurka his friend and, it was later discovered, business partner. Mr. Idema and Mr. Scurka provided documentation signed by Mr. Timothy Kelly, President of National Geographic Televison, addressed "to whom it may concern" confirming their affiliation with that organization. Mr. Kelly wrote: "National Geographic Television (NGT) is sending a camera crew to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan to accompany a United Nations sponsored humanitarian relief team led by Edward Artis of Knightsbridge International, who is working with Keith Idema. Gary Scurka will arrive in Uzbekistan on or about October 28, 2001, and will depart on or about November 15, 2001." Additional documentation they provided showed how National Geographic Television, with PBN News, obtained visas from Tajikistan for Mr. Idema and Mr. Scurka. It also confirmed their project for National Geographic was to film the partnered humanitarian programs between Knightsbridge International and Partners International Foundation for National Geographic Television.
Ellen Stanley, spokesperson for National Geographic Television, confirmed in an interview with LexisOne that Mr. Scurka’s project for National Geographic was "to shoot a documentary on food distribution and protection in the relief area." She also confirmed "Idema was one of the subjects of the documentary."
Following his return from Afghanistan Mr. Idema, in a public interview, referring to Mr. Scurka. Stated that one of the members of his "airdrop team" was "blown up" and had to be "MEDEVACed" out of Afghanistan, another indicator he was on some operation sanctioned by National Geographic Television and Mr. Scurka was a member of that team. Both Mr. Idema and Mr. Scurka signed notarized Statements of Work as subscribers with Partners International Foundation agreeing:… The subscriber will maintain both the appearance and fact of complete neutrality in all actions under this agreement at all times.The subscriber agrees no weapons, lethal or non-lethal will be carried, stored, transported, or otherwise in the possession of the subscriber, nor will the subscriber transport, cause to be transported, or assist in transporting any weapons, lethal or non-lethal or similar devices.
Exemptions for personal security will be requested and approved in-writing. The approval will come only from an officer in Partners International. The subscriber will not wear any clothing, badges, or similar items that give the appearance of any relation to the military or para-military organizations and will not participate in, assist, or in any way facilitate military, paramilitary or hostile actions directed against personnel or property.
In seeking support from Partners International Foundation Mr. Idema provided a biography summarizing an extensive military career. It stated:
J.Keith Idema, 45, has a military and police career spanning 21 years and over 55 countries. With 12 years in the United States Army Special Forces, and 20 years in Special Operations, Mr. Idema has a wide range of experience. Mr. Idema has been a police detective, working for the SPCC Child Abuse Task Force where he helped implement a variety of training programs aimed at protecting children in hostile environments. In the 1970s Mr. Idema trained anti-poaching teams for the South African police and military, where he developed a special interest in the protection of wildlife. He has been an advisor to more than a dozen countries and as a program director for the US Agency for International Development during the 1986 Haitian crisis, tasked with the protection of humanitarian aid efforts. Throughout his career Mr. Idema has had a particular interest in the protecting children and animals. Mr. Idema’s military experience includes service with Special Forces elements whose expertise included working with indigenous people and organizing vulnerable groups with capacity building programs.
Once Idema arrived in Afghanistan Mr. Idema engaged in actions in violation of the agreement with the Partners International foundation. These included, but were not limited to wearing military and paramilitary uniforms and other designations, engaging in offensive actions involving weapons, and intelligence gathering operations. When made aware of his previous statements Partners International Foundation and others Knightsbridge International were quick to notify all parties they never had any affiliation or agreement with Mr. Idema or Mr. Scurka. All links to Mr. Idema were abruptly severed by both Partners International Foundation and Knightsbridge.
It subsequently came to light through his statements, published press reports about him, and interviews with him, Mr. Idema may have been or may still be an operative for the United States Government and the non-profit organizations involved may have been used without their knowledge by one or more United States Government agencies to conduct covert operations. The need to determine the facts surrounding Mr. Idema’s identity, his actual military record, and resolve the issue of what role, if any, U.S. government agencies had in his actions and the misleading of organizations involved warranted this request. Charities as public enities , must be prepared to provide full disclosure in this matter if requested by the general public that support them by virtue of their status. This is critical to the public’s right to know the operations of government agencies and organizations and how they may effect public donations to a public charity such as these. In that regard alone release of this information is in the public interest.
CRITERIA SUPPORTING RELEASE OF INFORMATION
A review of the FOIA shows the only exemption that may apply to this request is "personal privacy interests are protected by two provisions of the FOIA, Exemption 6 and 7(C)." The exemption under 7 (C) is not applicable to this request as it is limited to information compiled for law enforcement purposes supporting on-going investigations. Mr. Idema’s military records were not created or compiled for that reason. Exemption 6, however, "permits the government to withhold all information about individuals ‘in personnel and medical files and similar files’ when the disclosure of such information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
To warrant protection under Exemption 6, the requested information must first fall within the category of "personal and medical files and similar files." Most, if not all of the documents requested are not in this category and are, therefore, automatically releaseable. For any documents that may be in that category, their release is more than authorized by the guidelines of the statute as supported by policy and case law.The foundational case law applicable to this request is the Supreme Court's decision in Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. The Reporters Committee set forth a series of tests applicable to Exemption 6 and Exemption 7(C) of the Act alike. The decision also establishes the basic "balancing process" by which privacy-protection decisions are to be made under these exemptions. This request meets the requirement of several categories of that test although meeting only one is required for disclosure. As a result, this request should be approved and the records disclosed.
NO PERSONAL PRIVACY ENTITLEMENT
The first step in considering the possible applicability of Exemption 6 is to determine whether disclosure would threaten a personal privacy interest. To meet this exemption there must be a viable privacy interest in the requested information for any further consideration of privacy-exemption protection to be appropriate. To qualify, the information must involve the privacy interest. Keith Idema is an identifiable living person, but he does not have a viable privacy interest regarding protecting this information. Since no personal privacy interest is involved, the FOIA states the privacy exemptions do not apply and the records should be disclosed.
There are several reasons Mr. Idema has no viable privacy interest. The relevant inquiry is whether public access to the information at issue would violate a viable privacy interest of the subject of such information. The disclosure of this information does not involve an invasion of privacy because Mr. Idema has no expectation of privacy. He has made himself a public figure using his military record and association with various government agencies the central foundation for that notoriety and position as well as using it to solicit funds from the public and government.
He also uses it to do business with the government. Although public figures do not surrender all rights to privacy by placing themselves in the public eye, their expectations of privacy is diminished which is the case here. By making his military record and association with various government agencies the foundation for his stature as a public figure and national/international notoriety, Mr. Idema does not have any expectation of privacy with respect to information that he himself has made public. Especially his military record and government dealings. Mr. Idema is a public figure who made his military record and dealings with the U.S. Government a part of his public persona. In so doing he reasonably surrendered any expectation of the application of any personal privacy exemption.
His own actions in putting his military record in the public view as a cornerstone of his businesses (CTG Media, Counterr Group, PBN News, The Hunt for Bin Laden, Never Give Up Films) and as the basis for civil suits against those who he claims illegally stole his persona (Idema, Scurka, et al Vs Dreamworks, et al) reasonably eliminates any claim public knowledge of any requested personal related materials is an invasion of privacy.Mr. Idema himself confirmed his identity as "Jack" and made any government and/or military service, as well as his professional qualifications a public matter.In its coverage of his operations in Afghanistan and the Book the New York Post (13 March 03) identifies Mr. Idema as "Green Beret Keith ‘Jack’ Idema".Newsmax coverage of Idema’s MSNBC interview names Mr. Idema as "Special Ops and Green Beret Jack Idema." The piece is also careful to delineate his status from "former Green Beret, author Robin Moore" underscoring the perception Mr. Idema is a current Green Beret and/or special operations operative.
Mr Idema promotes himself, his professional career, and public persona through a myriad of public outlets that contribute to making him a public figure and his military service and government affiliation open to disclosure by being part of that public persona.Sargie.com displays a photo of Mr. Idema in military uniform from the period he claims to be in his military service when "he helped stop the communists from taking over the country [El Salvador]" His Internet site NGU Films details how he traveled to Lithuania "as an undercover intelligence source." It describes Mr. Idema as having "fought terrorists for more than 20 years."
One example this site provides is how, "in 1991 Idema infiltrated some of the Soviet Union’s most secret intelligence units", and how in 1993 "he briefed the US Government of terrorist attempts to obtain Weapons of Mass Destruction." All of this was equally detailed by authors Robin Moore and Jim Morris when interviewed by national talk radio host Barry Farber who dedicated a special two-hour program to the Keith Idema story. Mr. Idema’s business (Counterr Group) also relies heavily on his military record, possible government service, reputation, and training for hostage rescue activities in support of the international counter-terrorist community; supporting "the national intelligence structure with both advisory missions and investigation of national security matters"; "direct action missions, primarily aimed at counter-terrorism"; and participation in "numerous hostage rescue activities".
One photo on Counterr Group’s Internet site shows Mr. Idema, clad in desert fatigues and a black assault vest treating an injured soldier. The caption reads: "Gardez, Afghanistan: …Counterr Group personnel administered combat medical treatment to more than five hundred Afghan soldiers." The identical picture appears in The Hunt For Bin Laden with the caption "an advisor to the Northern Alliance removes an Al Quada bullet from the leg of an NA soldier wounded in Operation Anaconda.
TF Saber operated alone in the middle of nowhere with no support and with only what they could carry on their backs." This conclusively shows Mr. Idema placing his military service in the public view and linking it to his company as a means to attract business from the government and the public. It also indicates a direct link to Mr. Idema operating for the United States Military/United States Government in Afghanistan. This is also the case with the photo of Mr. Idema seated on a tank in Afghanistan that appears on the cover of the yet to be released book by Robin Moore on Mr. Idema’s actions in Afghanistan titled An Army of One. This same photo also appears in The Hunt For Bin Laden with the caption "New York’s Police Department and Fire Department were on the mind of every Green Beret in Afghanistan…"
This also identifies Mr. Idema as a member of Special Forces serving in Afghanistan and contributes to him being a public figure. The fact Mr. Idema is writing a book with Robin Moore on his experiences coupled with at least two others (all linked to military and government service) and a film he marketed makes him a public figure and place the details of that service in the public perview.One of the most compelling arguments supporting the finding Mr. Idema has no expectation of privacy regarding the records requested comes from the Internet site for his Counterr Group business.
This is a site he uses to solicit funds from the public for various purposes and to attract government and public customers for his business. The site states "Counterr Group is controlled by Special Operations personnel", emphasizing "Our criteria for employment consideration is…very narrow." By stating that Counterr Group accepts employment resumes "exclusively from former Special Operations personnel", and requiring all interview requests be accompanied by "Military 201 file, or British Army From B.108, or similar Special Operations personnel."
Mr. Idema places military qualifications and suggested government affiliation at the very core of his business. As the owner of Counterr Group he is, therefore, placing any personal related documents requested in the public domain as business records. Before the Government or the general public does business with Mr. Idema or his company, expending both individual and public funds, they have the right to know the details of his experience, experience on which his business is based.Mr. Idema’s stature as a public figure and his reliance on his military record and government service is long standing. He historically references these in validating his reputation to the government, the media, and the public. Although this has long been Mr. Idema’s practice, in the interest of what brevity is possible in this request examples will be confined to a period from 1999 to the present.
In 1999 Mr. Idema’s military service was depicted by The World Net Daily as being "Special Forces and Special Operations units from 1975 to 1992." This covered the period Mr. Idema’s Counterr Group site states he was operating covertly in Lithuania. World Net also reported he "helped train hostage rescue team personnel for both [Army] Delta Force and the FBI." They listed him as a "Special Forces explosive expert."
In 2000, Mr. Idema filed a civil suit against Steven Spielberg for stealing his public persona and using his military qualifications as the basis for George Clooney’s character, Tom Devoe, in Spielberg’s film The Peacemaker. After an interview with Mr. Idema, LexisOne reported "In 1991, Idema, a non-commissioned officer in the United States Special Forces, returned from a mission in Eastern Europe..."
It re-affirms Idema’s statements he was "acting as an advisor to the Lithuanian government" re-iterating how author Jim Morris "turned Idema’s exploits into two articles published in Soldier of Fortune magazine in March and April of 1995." It implies Mr. Idema was serving as a covert operative for the United States Government. These further detailed what Mr. Idema asserts are his military records and service with Special Forces in El Salvador as he published on Sergie.com.On another LexisOne interview on September 11, 2001, Mr. Idema is "a senior non-commissioned officer in U.S. Army Special Forces for more than 18 years." Later that year The New York Times interviewed Mr. Idema who detailed "when he was a Green Beret, Mr. Idema, 45, traveled to some dangerous areas and his trusted companion parachuting out of airplanes and sniffing out bombs was his Tibetan Shepherd, Sarge." This is supported by the 1991 photo of Mr. Idema and his dog at Fort Bragg in a military vehicle, the same period Mr. Idema claims he was in Special Forces and operating on a mission in Lithuania.
When he went to Afghanistan and provided reports to TVSPY.com, Mr. Idema contacted them and they published his report from "retired Green Beret Keith Idema". This presented to the public his Green Beret qualification and status as a military retiree, both of which should be reflected in the documents requested. The Boston Globe article reporting on Mr. Idema’s discovering Al Quida training tapes in Afghanistan stated "J. Keith Idema, a former U.S. Army Special Forces non-commissioned officer and counter terrorism specialist who now advises the Afghan military…
" A UPI report 4 Feb02 quoting Mr. Idema in their interview published he was a "former member of the U.S. Army’s crack counter-terrorist team Delta Force". In interviews promoting The Hunt For Bin Laden, Mr. Idema, now a significant public figure, gave further details of his military and government service. When the interviewer narrated his career by asking Mr. Idema to confirm he’d been "advisor to Royal Thai Army Special Forces, Counter Terrorist Task Force Leader, Undercover intelligence agent in Russia, military advisor in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Laos, Cambodia, Eastern Europe…working with the Contras in Central America".
Mr. Idema confirmed it all.
As with other areas covered by this request Mr. Idema actions provide more than sufficient support for release of any requested documents that may be personal in nature. This is particularly applicable to the determination Mr. Idema is a public figure and has no expectation of privacy.In 2000, Mr. Idema and others filed a civil suit against Steven Spielberg, Dreamworks and others. The core dispute in the complaint is Mr. Idema, his military record, and actions working for the United States government. Mr. Idema made it so and placed it in the public view by the allegation that Mr. Spielberg, Dreamworks, and others "went so far as to actually steal the persona of a living Special Forces Green Beret." The complaint makes public numerous additional qualifications for Mr. Idema (who the complaint says enlisted in 1974) including, but not limited to being "a graduate of the United States Army Institute for Military Assistance"; holding "extensive qualifications from the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center"; "recipient of numerous prestigious awards and letters from various government organizations and foreign countries"; "expert in light and heavy weapons, counter-terrorism, hostage rescue, and close-quarter battle tactics."
It further presents Mr. Idema as "the only Special Forces Qualified operator on the ground, behind the Iron Curtain [in 1991]" This supports a perception by a reasonable person that Mr. Idema was on active duty at the time.The complaint against Dreamworks states Mr. Idema conducted special operations "in Central America, Southeast Asis, and Europe". It confirms Mr. Idema concealed "classified units, people, and missions to insure Idema remained loyal to his covert comrades in the U.S. Military" and categorizes him as "a man who was once America’s youngest Green Beret," who received Royal Master Thai Jumpwings in 1985 as "one of less than a handful of Green Berets to do so."
The complaint also confirms Mr. Idema’s official military file was previously released by stating "Jessica Stern [the White House] had access to Idema’s file." It also makes public "Idema was one of a handful of Green Berets that graduated from the Special Forces Hwarang Do Special Weapons and Tactics/Hand-to-Hand Combat Instructor Course."Based on the facts presented and the release criteria in the FOIA, a protectable privacy interest does not exist that would be threatened by disclosure. Under these conditions, according to the FOIA, "further analysis is unnecessary and the information at issue must be disclosed."
Although most of the material requested is not personal in nature and Mr. Idema has no viable personal privacy interest in any other material so disclosure is warranted on that basis alone, there also exists a "public interest" in the release of the requested documents. The disclosure will benefit the general public in light of the content and context of the information in question and so the information should not be protected under the privacy exemption. The information requested meets the test of involving a more general "public interest" assessment based upon the contents and context of the records sought and their connection to any "public interest" that would be served by disclosure. There are numerous possible effects of disclosure that will directly benefit the public in general.Mr. Idema is soliciting funds directly from the government and general public through several business ventures.
PBN News is offering copies of the Al Queda terrorist tapes for sale promising: "50% of all fees are donated directly to medical supplies, food and clothing for America’s allies in Afghanistan. 25% of all fees are directly used to support the U.S. war on Al Qaida. 25% goes to administrative costs"
This indicates funds received will be paid directly to humanitarian programs so the public has a deep interest in knowing these are legitimately and properly distributed and accounted for by legitimate organizations. The public also has a profound interest in the details of what United States Government operations are being funded by private funds in the war on terrorism and the connection to any military and/or covert operations Mr. Idema may have been or may now be involved in.
This is particularly true if funds collected support United States or foreign militaries engaged in combat. The public also has an interest in what administrative costs are paid for each.Mr. Idema is also soliciting funds to directly support Northern Alliance operations in Afghanistan through Counter-Terrorist (aka Counterr) Group. The Hunt For Bin Laden Internet site solicits funding by instructing visitors "To help Nothern Alliance and fight al-Qaida" then provides the Counterr Group post office box and Internet link (www.counterrgroup.org ).
The Internet site for that organization also uses the ".org" extension. Although this is not reserved exclusively for non-profit organizations, the designation does indicate a certain humanitarian and/or non-profit status.
The public has an interest in public contributions supporting a foreign military force as well as any connection to as a member of the United States Military or agent of the United States Government. The public also has an interest in the requested documents as they may reflect similar previous operations.Mr. Idema is also raising funds to support what the Internet site terms "Our Afghan Allies" through the direct sales of shirts, lighters and other merchandise at book signing sessions for The Hunt For Bin Laden.
The book’s Official site advertises "ALL profits from these gifts goes to assist our Afghan allies". The public has an interest in the details of what United States, Afghanistan government, and/or other operations are being funded by their contributions as well as any connection to Mr. Idema as a member of the United States Military or agent of the United States Government. The public also has an interest in the requested documents as they may show similar previous operations.Another purpose for which the FOIA was designed for is to check against corruption.
The requested information will also inform the public of possible violations of the public trust if any exist regarding these activities and various government agencies. According to the FOIA guidelines, it must be "accorded great weight in the balancing process" Mr. Idema’s interviews, legal filings, and written products produced for the public over the years raise issues directly related to the public trust and possible covert activities of the Department of Defense and other agencies of the Federal Government. These examples are extensive. Mr. Idema’s company, Counterr Group advertises its close connection with Department and Defense and U.S. Government agencies in performing covert and overt operations for them:"Counterr Group was chosen for the sensitive task of training President Ronald Reagan’s son, Ron Reagan, Jr.""Our national security investigations division supports the national intelligence structure with both advisory missions, and investigations of national security matters with a primary focus towards counter-espionage and counter-terrorism.""Counterr Group continues to support the United Front Military Forces (Northern Alliance) with advisors, medical support, combat advisors, intelligence operations, and equipment. Counterr Group continues to assist in dismantling the al-Qaida terrorist network."There are extensive examples of Mr. Idema operating as an overt and covert agent for the Department of Defense and other U.S. Government Agencies prior to his actions in Afghanistan:
"Idema…was involved in covert operations when he served with special forces in El Salvador…"
"After years of working in military ‘Special Operations’ in Central America, Southeast Asia, and Europe, Idema found himself in Lithuania in 1991 as a civilian advisor".
"In 1991 Idema infiltrated some of the Soviet Union’s most secret intelligence units and uncovered the Soviet penetration of the FBI and CIA"
"In 1991, Idema, a non-commissioned officer in the U.S. Special Forces, returned from a mission in Eastern Europe with quite a story to tell."
"Idema, acting as an advisor to the Lithuanian government"
"Working together in an official and unofficial capacity, the Lithuanian commando and the Green Beret [Idema] used under cover operatives to gather information…"
"Idema had traveled to Lithuania during their struggle for independence and was acting as an undercover intelligence source. His cover was to instruct the Lithuanian police and to develop a privately funded American Special Operations and police academy for the Baltic states".
"In 1993 he briefed the US Government of terrorist attempts to obtain Weapons of Mass Destruction for use against American cities."
"Idema had been involved in an intelligence gathering mission in the former Soviet Union…"
"Idema returned to America and was the star of a Pentagon briefing in 1992. Afterward two gentlemen came up to him, congratulated him on his intelligence coup, introduced themselves as representatives from the FBI and CIA…
"INTERVIEWER: "[REFERRING TO MR. IDEMA’S BACKGROUND] advisor to Royal Thai Army Special Forces, Counter Terrorist Task Force Leader, Undercover intelligence agent in Russia, military advisor in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Laos, Cambodia, Eastern Europe…working with the Contras in Central America".
Mr. Idema confirmed it all.
[IDEMA] "I left to go do some intelligence work in 1991 in Russia. I continued to operate and work with special operations throughout the 90’s"
"With virtually no unclassified information on Idema’s claims available, [Robin] Moore and [Gary] Scurka spent five years following Idema’s story."Mr. Idema has personally taken action involving the disclosure of what could be classified and/or sensitive materials. His interface with United States Government Intelligence and Department of Defense Organizations is also more extensive than can reasonably be expected of a private citizen acting on his own."The next time Spielberg had access to the story is believed to be the transfer of Idema’s secret Russian documents from Kathy Scurka to Petersen, who then transferred the documents and story to Jessica Stern at the White House."
"In late 1992, Idema would be approached by the Whitehouse, the CIA, and the FBI, who would request his help." "Idema sparked a bitter feud between intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense in 1993 and 1994.""Earl Edwin Pitts, who had him [Idema] sent to prison for refusing to reveal sources, led away in hand cuffs…"The events relating to Mr. Idema’s activities in Afghanistan provide a culmination of apparent links between Mr. Idema, the U.S. Department of Defense, and various U.S. Government Agencies.
This includes involvement by his Company Counterr Group acting on behalf of the United States Government. When asked by an interviewer following his return from Afghanistan: "You were, in effect, a Soldier of Fortune" Mr. Idema stated "No, I don’t know about that." Creating the impression he was not in Afghanistan as a private individual, but his actions were somehow official or officially sanctioned.
In another interview after his return Mr. Idema was pointedly asked "So what is your status now? Are you a mercenary, are you in, are you out, are you going to have to Kill me if you tell me?" Mr. Idema responded "I’m actually an advisor to the Northern Alliance…I went in about the same times the first teams went in and hooked up with the Northern Alliance and helped them with everything from airdrops to advice on military operations."
This bolsters the perception that while in Afghanistan Mr. Idema was either working for the U.S. Military as green Beret or some U.S. Government Agency."Like most of the active-duty special operators, Idema would later be known only by a single nickname.""Great insight into the workings and politics of the Northern Alliance was obtained from a special advisor to the United Front Military Forces of Afghanistan, known only as "Jack". He also helped us ferret out countless factual errors and revisionist history set forth by official sources.""As the first waves of U.S. bombs were falling, Jack was helping deliver food and supplies to the Northern Alliance.
By November he was helping the NA with aid shipments and advice. In December at Tora Bora, it was Jack who found documents in Bin Laden’s retreat that painted a vivid picture of his terrorist goals. When Afghans thought they had and armed assassin at Hamid Karzai’s inauguration on December 22, 2001, it was Jack they called in to sort it out.""Keith Idema, an American security Advisor to the Afghan Interim Administration…""J. Keith Idema, a former US Army special forces noncommissioned officer and counter terrorism specialist who now advises the Afghan military.
""On November 7, Gary Scurka, a journalist covering the collateral humanitarian aid effort, drove with his National Geographic film crew to the frontlines. He was with a Green Beret working on bringing in airdrops of food for the Northern Alliance and investigating rumors that the Taliban were poisoning the HDRs…""During this current program our personnel [Counterr Group] worked with USAID, through nonprofit humanitarian assistance programs which provided complex relief assistance throughout the world.""Counterr Group’s activities on the ground in Afghanistan were wide ranging in support of US Special Operations Initiatives." Mr. Idema appears to have been provided an unprecedented level of support from the U.S. Department of Defense and various Government Agencies, the level and nature of which appears to be far beyond what a normal private citizen could expect to receive.Mr. Idema appears to have been allowed to enter the Army under the normal enlistment age of 18.
As he told one interviewer recently, "I joined the Army I was about 17, went through the Special Forces course, graduated at 18, had to hold the class a month until I was 19, spent the next 20 years in counter-terrorism and special ops." The fact the Army held back an entire Special Forces qualification class so just one student could reach the age of 19 and graduate seems unprecedented. This appears to support Mr. Idema’s previous claims he was both America’s youngest Green Beret and also that he’s been working for various covert U.S. Government agencies for many years.
As they attempted to enter Uzbekistan on the way to Afghanistan, Mr. Idema narrates: "Finally, the plane was waved off on approach by the tower three times before we landed in Tashkent, only to be jailed for a night with alleged visa problems, until ‘friends’ interceded and brought about our swift release and apologies."
The ‘friends" Mr. Idema appears to refer to is official intervention by the United States government. In an official letter to the Government of Uzbekistan, The Embassy of the United States of America in Tashkent wrote: The Embassy of the Unites States of America in the Republic of Uzbekistan presents its compliments to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan and has the honor to request the Ministry’s assistance in issuance of…multiple entry visas valid for four years for Mr. Gary Steven Scurka…and Mr. Jonathan Idema, Contracting Officers for the Defense Department…"
When Mr. Idema had difficulty gaining entrance the United States Government stepped forward and acknowledged its affiliation with him and Mr. Scurka. This appears consistent with Mr. Idema’s statements and news reports Mr. Idema, and possibly Mr. Scurka were conducting operations, overt or covert, in direct support of the United States Government.In an interview after his return, Mr. Idema was specifically asked about his releasing what appeared to be sensitive information.
The interviewer asked "Aren’t these operations supposed to remain TOP SECRET? Why do you think the U.S. Government allowed you to disclose this information." Mr. Idema did not deny the U.S. Government allowed or were connected in his release of the information, only saying he did not feel the information was embarrassing.In reporting the events that occurred after Gary Scurka was wounded in Afghanistan, The Hunt For Bin Laden says: "Even though they were specifically told not to render civilian assistance, Special Forces assets in Tajikistan met Scurka when he arrived in Dushanbe and wasted no time getting him American doctors, Major Dave Brigham was the military attache’ in Tajikistan, and SF was moving that Bull Simons’ borderline again in order to get the job done and save lives."This appears consistent with Mr. Idema’s statements and news reports and is another example of an unprecedented level of direct support to Mr. Idema that is not normally afforded to United States citizens overseas. The incident also raises questions if Mr. Idema, and possibly Mr. Scurka were conducting operations, overt or covert, in direct support of the United States Government and, if so, if National Geographic Television was a willing participant to the deception.
Referring to Mr. Idema’s release of the Al Quada terrorist tapes from Afghanistan: "The Pentagon did not want the videos released. The U.S. Army Public Affairs Office called it irresponsible, borderline criminal, and completely in violation of U.S. objectives and policy…. Rumsfeld, on the other hand, decided he liked it." The suggested link between the Secretary of Defense and Mr. Idema acting in accordance with his wishes also indicates Mr. Idema may have been working in direct support of the United States Government. Again, no action was taken against Mr. Idema by the U.S. Government. In fact, Mr. Idema apparently had such close contacts with the military and CIA in Afghanistan he freely passed intelligence such as the Al Qeada Terrorist Videos he later sold to CBS. One reporter writes "Idema, whose travels in post-9/11 Afghanistan are part of a new Random House book, "The Hunt for bin Laden," said he gave copies of the tapes to the military and CIA [Emphasis added] within weeks of their discovery."
This supports the very legitimate question a CBS representative would later voice regarding if Mr. Idema wasn’t releasing the videos as part of some U.S. Government covert operation.Referring to Mr. Idema’s investigation of Humanitarian Daily Rations in Afghanistan: "Back at Bragg, Special Forces Command moved quickly to solve the problem. Rice started coming in with airdrops to TASK FORCE DAGGER teams and within days USAID provided emergency funds to the UN’s World Food Program to finance airdrops of rice, wheat, and cooking oil….The Army’s Counter-Terrorist Task Force Office in New York City was also ecstatic." The suggested link between the United States Special Operations Command and their making changes to operations based on his actions also indicates Mr. Idema may have been acting in direct support of the United States Government .Referring to Mr. Idema’s investigation of Humanitarian Daily Rations in Afghanistan: "Idema got word that Donald Rumsfeld demanded answers from Natick.
The following day the team was ecstatic: a Natick official admitted the presence of desiccant and the more important contamination problem, stating that government contractors had violated DoD (Department of Defense) product specifications." The suggested link between the Secretary of Defense and Mr. Idema acting in accordance with his wishes also indicates Mr. Idema may have been acting in direct support of the United States GovernmentMr. Idema’s interviews underscore the appearance he was acting in direct support of the U.S. Department of Defense and various United States Government Agencies, the level and nature of which appears to be far beyond what a normal private citizen acting alone and unsupported.In an interview after his return Mr. Idema details his operations to support the capture of Osama Bin Laden, saying "In February I had about… I was organizing a force of about 500 Northern Alliance guys to go into a village where we thought Bin Laden was…" It is unlikely a private individual without U.S. Government backing could raise and equip such a force.In an interview after his return from Afghanistan, Mr. Idema details a previously unpublished link between Al Quida and Iraq.
He is asked why Secretary of State Colin Powell or the Defense Department didn’t make the information he released public when appearing at the United Nations to justify war on Iraq, Mr. Idema said "They didn’t want it to come out from an official source but now people are talking about it." Mr. Idema revealed links between the Taliban and Iran that include the Iranian government providing aircraft to evacuating Al Quida from Afghanistan. He [Idema] cites intelligence he saw gathered including "Iraqi documents, Iraqi false passports, Iraqi money, letters and contacts and information, computer programs and computers that would link [al Qaeda] to Iraq and to Iraqi intelligence agencies."
Following his return from Afghanistan Mr. Idema revealed precise details of what would seem to be sensitive operations and units. Mr. Idema’s actions were never questioned by the United States Government.
BARNICLE: So, the arrest in Pakistan over the weekend of Mohammed by the Pakistani intelligence forces, how much do you figure they really had to do with it.
IDEMA: Well, I can tell you they had not a lot to do with it. All of the operations that are being conducted in Western Pakistan are conducted by a special task force of special operations guys, named Task Force 11 – I wasn’t going to say that, but I will – which is named after the September 11 attack. And those guys conduct extensive operations in Western Pakistan. They go after al Qaeda. They search them down. And their deal is, hey, if it goes well, we’ll give Pakistan intelligence services and police the credit. If it goes bad, the U.S. will take the blame.
[IDEMA]: "We had Afghan intelligence agents that had surveillance on him [Bin Laden]"In response to a question about tracking Bin Laden [Idema]: "We picked up intelligence on him [Osama Bin Laden] around the 19th of December…and we began to do intelligence ops to find out where he was. And we located some of his guys and we thought he was with them in a village in southeastern Afghanistan, it’s called Kutange (ph), The White Mountains."
Idema was apparently resourced to attempt the capture of Osama Bin Laden himself. His narration includes insights from a CIA predator operator likely not accessible to anyone outside the United States Government.
BARNICLE: Your priority for several weeks was tracking Osama bin Laden. How close did you get to him?
IDEMA: We got pretty close. We actually had surveillance on a village in Debalah (ph) region, which is the southeastern mountains of Afghanistan. They call them the Putange (ph), the White Mountains. We got the first intelligence tip in December. We put surveillance guys on it for about a month, a month and a half. We started to build the force, organizing a Northern Alliance force to go in there. Probably would have got the town and got into the village on time. A Predator actually came over doing surveillance flights and fell-saw what he thought might be Osama bin Laden or was Osama bin Laden on his remote screen in Saudi Arabia. And he fired a Hellfire missile. And that kind of shot the whole operation down the tubes. There were also serious questions raised by the international media regarding Mr. Idema and his possible connection with the United States government.
One subject of continuing questions continues to be the source of the Al Qaeda terrorist Training Tapes Mr. Idema obtained in Afghanistan and is offering for sale.In an interview when he sold them to CBS News, Mr. Idema detailed his discovery: "When they came across the Shomali Plain to this compound," Idema says, "they found a lot of documents. They had gotten the tapes right away but they were scared to bring the tapes forward. And they were scared to tell anybody they had them." One reporter, following an interview with Mr. Idema reported: "The tapes were recently discovered in the possession of Northern Alliance Forces by J. Keith Idema ."
In an interview following his return Mr. Idema provided yet another version of how the tapes came into his possession:
ERIC CAMPBELL: Northern Alliance soldiers discovered the tapes here shortly after the foreign fighters fled.They've come to light only because Idema bought them from one of his intelligence assets, videotaping the heavily armed transaction as proof of payment.
J.K IDEMA: This took weeks to pull off, maybe about a month.It was constant meetings, it was back-alley meetings at midnight, it was going to remote places in Afghanistan -- in the hills and you know, houses, to meet people to try and convince them to turn all the tapes over to me.
Still more recently, the account changed to: "Idema found the tapes in an abandoned house while he was in Afghanistan in November 2001 as an adviser to anti-Taliban force, the Northern Alliance."The cumulative result is probably best seen in the reaction from one producer shortly after Mr. Idema sold some of the tapes to CBS: "Jay Weiss, Rather’s 60 Minutes II coproducer on the piece, wondered out loud on numerous occasions, was the release of these tapes a Pentagon black op – the phrase for operations so secret that they are made to look as if the Department of Defense has no involvement? Or was Jack a complete renegade? That remained the number-one question about Jack."In yet another profound example that supports the perception Mr. Idema was working for the U.S. Government or Military, "As Idema ripped off his black field jacket to start working on Scurka’s wounds, cameras started to flash as the crowd saw an assault vest with an American Flag in the breast pocket.
NBC later agreed to cut Idema out of its tape." The fact Mr. Idema was concealing an assault vest (clearly in violation of his agreement with Partners International Foundation) under his cloths and had the media suppress it clearly shows his intent, and the intent of any agency(s) he worked for, to deceive the NGO and others as to his true intent and reason for being in Afghanistan.
Most conclusively is the version of events Mr. Idema sanctioned for The Hunt for Bin Laden.On February 5, Jack, the American advisor working with the Northern Alliance, targeted Osama bin Laden just south of Tora Bora in the Dehbala region.
He had been working with secret intelligence assets in the mountains for two months to locate bin Laden. The group in hiding was posively confirmed to be extremely high-ranking AQ commanders. There was also a very good chance bin Laden himself was with them, and receiving constant medical care for his kidney problems, and a shrapnel wound Jack knew bin Laden received in Tora Bora. On February 6, just as Jack was organizing his force to attack, a CIA Predator UAV flew high over the mountain area. The remote operator zoomed in the camera and locked on to the small group of men. He quickly spotted what Jack already knew: there was a tall man in the group who was surrounded by bodyguards. The operations, both Jack’s and the Agency’s, would be clouded in secrecy and questions would always remain as to the identity of the men on that mountaintop.
The public has a deep extremely legitimate, and undeniable interest in resolving the questions raised, particularly as they pertain to possible deception of humanitarian organizations by the United States government and using those organizations (without their knowledge) to conduct covert operations. In addition, several of Mr. Idema’s business ventures (Counterr Group, NGU Films, HFBL LLC, PBN News, Sargie.com) as well as a multi-million dollar civil suit against Spielberg, Dreamworks, etc. are directly based and dependant on military and other service to the government of the United States. This interest includes related actions by government agencies. The public has a right to know if these are correct before making a final decision on conducting business with these firms or donating to these causes. They have particular interest in determining if their tax dollars have funded, are funding, or will fund such activities involving Mr. Idema and the organizations and agencies involved.Although portions of the information requested has been publicly available, distributed, and covered by the media, none of these claims, to our knowledge and belief, were ever disputed, refuted, denied, or challenged by any U.S. Government agency.
PUBLIC INTEREST QUALIFICATION
In addition to the previous grounds overwhelmingly supporting release, the public interest qualifies for balancing under the new Reporters Committee public interest standard. The only relevant public interest under the FOIA remains, as set forth in Reporters Committee, "the citizens’ right to be informed about what their government is up to." Several of the identified public interests fall within the Act's "core purpose" of "shed[ding] light on an agency's performance of its statutory duties." The kind of public interest for which congress enacted the FOIA. As a result, it qualifies for inclusion in the balancing process. The information requested will clearly reveal official government activities, not merely speculative inferences about the conduct of an agency or a government official. This criteria for disclosure directly supports release of the information requested since the courts require disclosure of information concerning an individual’s business dealings with the federal government; indeed, even embarrassing information, if related to an individual’s professional life, was subject to disclosure. The requested information pertains directly to Mr. Idema’s business dealings with the Federal Government, many of which he’s made a matter of public record. It is also directly related to his professional life for many reasons, not the least of which is that Mr. Idema is using his military record and any perceived U.S. Government affiliations as a basis for his professional life and dealing with the federal government.
QUALIFYING PUBLIC INTEREST REQUIRES DISCLOSURE
Finally, disclosure is both appropriate and required if it is determined that a public interest qualifying under the Reporters Committee standard is present and that interest is balanced against the personal privacy interest identified. Clearly, in weighing the two interests, the benefit to the public clearly outweighs any perceived harm to Mr. Idema. As shown, if any potential harm to Mr. Idema’s privacy exists, it is clearly negligible. It is also important to note that both the FOIA and case law shows that in balancing these interests the language of Exemption 6 weights the scales in favor of disclosure."In addition to those previously mentioned, the organizations involved and the public they rely on for volunteers and support deserve to know if intelligence operatives are representing themselves as NGOs and or members of the media. In one example, the Counterr Group Internet site shows wounded journalist Gary Scurka in Afghanistan stating "several of the men shown in the battlefield footage helping rescue Scurka were Counterr Group personnel operating in Afghanistan.
All personnel in the photos and in the film were supposedly journalists. This practice puts the lives of legitimate volunteers at risk if they are associated with intelligence operatives. It is in the public interest to determine the truth regarding the appearances of government dealings in these matters.The presumption in favor of disclosure is under the criteria outlined is as strong as can be found anywhere in the Act". This is a request for information that is not properly withholdable under any FOIA exemption and so the agency is "required under Section 552 of this title" to disclose the information requested.
ITERATIVE RESPONSE ACCEPTABLE
Understanding that some documents provided under this request may be immediately available while others require additional research and release, We are willing to accept iterative release of materials as they become available provided the cumulative effect is timely receipt of all materials requested and/or that any statements made by him regarding any such relationship contained in this request are not correct.
CONFIRMATION OF RECORD AVAILABILITY
Due to the nature of the situation and the need for the public to know the truth in these matters, a response of "no records responsive to the request found" is inadequate to address the public interest concerns should there be no record on this matter. In that case request the agency provide, in the letter response, a statement confirming no classified files regarding Mr. Idema for the areas requested exist; that he was never in the service of or employed by the agency or agencies for which his records are requested; or that he never provided the information, documents, or other materials he states he did to the agency.
URGENCY OF NEED
In accordance with 5 U.S.C., Section 552 (as amended) (a)(6)(E), this request for release qualifies for expeditious processing. Although qualifying for this expeditious disclosure requires the request only meet one of two stated criteria, this request, to the best of my knowledge and belief, qualifies under both.First, as authorized by the FOIA, expeditious processing and disclosure is authorized because a failure to obtain requested records on an expedited basis under this paragraph could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to life of physical safety of an individual."The plethora of examples provided regarding Mr. Idema’s action in Afghanistan and statements made following his return and published in The Hunt For Bin Laden strongly establisheds the perception Mr. Idema may have been functioning as a U.S. Military and/or U.S. Government covert then overt operator in Afghanistan. The result is a pall of suspicion on those aid workers and journalists who were with him in Afghanistan.
They have a reasonable and understandable concern they could be regarded as operatives. Many of them are currently in or planning to enter Afghanistan, Iraq, and similar volatile environments. The wide media coverage Mr. Idema obtained internationally promoting the book potentially puts them at risk as targets for retribution in the United States.
This is particularly true of being alluded to as members of Counter-Terrorist Group on their Internet site. Kevin Sites, a CNN News currently in the Middle East covering the war in Iraq, when discovering the information on the Counter-Group Internet site expressed extreme concern saying: "…they used a picture of me with crazy keith in afghanistan and made us associates? that could get me killed out here. please let me know."
These concers are shared by other media representatives If Mr. Idema was, or is a U.S. Government operative, the covert use of NGOs and Media to support offensive military operations put them at risk in Afghanistan and other countries of the world such as Iran and Iraq where these factions operate as well as within the United States.The only viable solution to this is the expeditious release of the requested materials so the truth can be known and personnel/organizations involved can take appropriate actions. Second, "there is a very real urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity."
The national and international publicity on the war in Iraq and war in Afghanistan in general as well as the book The Hunt For Bin Laden brings these issues and their effect on the public to the forefront.Mr. Idema is soliciting funds directly from the government and general public through several business ventures and there are indications funds received will be paid directly to humanitarian programs. The public has a deep interest in knowing these are legitimately and properly distributed and accounted for by legitimate organizations before they contribute.
The public also has a profound interest in the details of what United States Government operations are being funded by private funds in the war on terrorism and the connection to any military and/or covert operations Mr. Idema may have been or may now be involved in. This is particularly true if funds collected support United States or foreign militaries engaged in combat. Mr. Idema is also soliciting funds to directly support Northern Alliance operations in Afghanistan through Counter-Terrorist (aka Counterr) Group. he public has an interest in public contributions supporting a foreign military force as well as any connection to as a member of the United States Military or agent of the United States Government.
Mr. Idema is also raising funds to support what the Internet site terms "Our Afghan Allies" through the direct sales of shirts, lighters and other merchandise at book signing sessions for The Hunt For Bin Laden. The public has an interest in the details of what United States, Afghanistan government, and/or other operations are being funded by their contributions as well as any connection to Mr. Idema as a member of the United States Military or agent of the United States Government. The public also has an interest in the requested documents as they may show similar previous operations.
The requested information will also inform the public of possible violations of the public trust if any exist regarding these activities and various government agencies. The public has a deep extremely legitimate, and undeniable interest in resolving the questions raised, particularly as they pertain to possible deception of humanitarian organizations by the United States government and using those organizations (without their knowledge) to conduct covert operations. The public has a right to know if the United States Government is using individuals and/or organizations to overtly or covertly release what could be viewed as sensitive information, and if that information is correct.Perhaps most importantly, the perception that there may be U.S. Government covert operators are wearing non-combatant clothing and presenting themselves as media and humanitarians is not much different than the activities the U.S. Government is currently accusing Iraq of conducting contrary to the Geneva convention. The public has a right to know if the U.S. Government is engaging in these activities.