Short post tonight, but I can’t keep it in. For most of today, I’ve been doing a deep dive into FBI protocol to help me revise my FOIA request seeking all fingerprint expungement requests between 1999 and June 2002 due to the Privacy Act. As many of you know, June 2002 was when Ron Tammen’s fingerprints had been expunged due to the Privacy Act or a court order. However, in my recent FOIA request on that subject, the FBI claimed that, based on the information I’d provided to them, they were “Unable to identify records responsive to your request.“ For my revised request, I want to point to specific FBI protocols in their own words so their FOIA folks won’t be able to pretend that I didn’t give them enough information.
One of the websites that I visited today was www.governmentattic.org, which is an invaluable website that believes in government transparency. They’ve posted all sorts of random documents from all areas of the federal government that they’ve obtained by submitting their own FOIA requests. There, I was thrilled to find an FBI FOIA and Privacy Act reference manual that covers the time period of January 8, 1987 through March 31, 1998.
Near the end of the manual are memos that deal with agency protocol when handling FOIA and Privacy Act requests. Memo 14, which deals with the correction or expungement of information in FBI files, was issued on March 31, 1998, just four years before Ron’s fingerprints were expunged. It’s pretty short, so I’ll let you read it at your leisure. (Note that the initials PLS stand for paralegal specialist.)
Here are the two key takeaways from this memo:
- Among other things, I plan to seek “all correspondence between the Bureau and the requester” for the period of January 1, 1999 through June 30, 2002. There’ll be tons of redactions, no doubt, but we still could get a sense of how many people requested that their fingerprints be expunged during that period due to the Privacy Act.
- Best of all, is the first sentence of the last paragraph: “The only person who can make a request for amendment/correction is the subject of the record.”
You guys, we’ve been saying all along that if Ron Tammen’s fingerprints were expunged due to the Privacy Act, then he was alive in 2002, since he’s the only person who can make that request.
It’s just super nice to hear the FBI say so too.
Happy New Year, everyone!
Wow. Ok if Ron filed to use the privacy act, would the FBI at least record that information was removed at request of the individual?
They might…one would think so. I’d attempted to obtain that sort of documentation, but was summarily rebuffed.
Happy New Year Jen.
I want so much to run out and find an old over coat, a fake cigar, a small pencil and an old car.
I would love to witness me as Columbo just once. You would walk in the FBI and the reporters, all selected by me, “no spin” and . . .
as the acting director addresses you . . .
We all hear . . .
Ronald Tammen, Jr. has been . . .
Happy new year! 🕵️♀️
More incredible work, Jenny. Thanks for sharing.
Happy New Year.
Thanks, Marilyn! Happy New Year to you too!
Your updates are so impressive Jenny! I feel confident that somehow you’ll get the complete story in Ron T!
Keep up the good work and almost Happy New Year!
Thank you so much, Matt! And thank you for staying with my blog over the long haul–I really appreciate it! Happy New Year!
“The only person who can make a request for amendment/correction is the subject of the record.”
Yeah, those are the magic words, and they jumped out at me. My first thought is to determine if “the subject” must request in their legal name and/or a different name known to the agency and/or their name as identified in the pertinent record requested. At first glance, the only way I can think of finding out is by wading through whatever fingerprint expungement records you receive.
Great point, thanks. Hopefully, my revised request will be successful and I get some expungement requests. I’m guessing all names will be redacted, whether legal or former, etc., however if Ron’s request is included, his FBI number 358-406-B may be written somewhere so we’d be able to tell it’s his. Then…wow…I’d be excited.
Hmm- are you thinking Ron submitted his 2002 request under an alias or alternate identity known to the government? Because if he submitted his request in 2002 (or possibly pre-2002) as Ronald Tammen, who hasn’t been seen or heard from since April 1953, that would have raised some questions with the FBI staff.
I’m assuming they need to verify the requestor’s identity when these requests are submitted, and it stands to reason Ron wouldn’t have had a current ID under the name Ronald Tammen in 2002. Speculating here, but that would mean someone in the government knew the other identity associated with Ronald Tammen’s name.
Great question. I have no idea how he would have submitted his request. But yes, I think someone in the government knows/knew his identity.
Scott makes a great case and point in his post about Ron having a possible alternate identity to make such a request. Especially if it was done in his own name, red flags would have gone up instantly!
And yes, I also agree that someone (all along) in the government knows/knew his identity too. Both statements from you and Scott support my “post-9/11 security threat” theory. I believe Ron was possibly a very prominent or important person (covertly) under his longtime, new identity!
Scott R–I’ve been mulling over your comment a little more and your point that “someone in the government knew the other identity” makes me think about something. The reason for my lawsuit back in 2012 had to do with someone in the FOIA office. I won’t name him here, but I mention him in the lawsuit, which is online. I’d been using the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) as a mediator for my FOIA request and asking them why the FBI had sent me ANY documents on Tammen without asking me for proof of death or third-party approval, as they had for other missing persons. The FOIA person responded through OGIS that “The FBI released information pertaining to Mr. Tammen because over the years the FBI had contact with his family who indicated that they believed Mr. Tammen to be deceased given some suspicious facts, namely, that after his disappearance a fish was found in his college bed.” Well, that was very interesting, since none of the FOIA documents I’d received had mentioned the fish or any conversations between the FBI and the family. Long story short, I said this to the OGIS person, and surprisingly, in response, the FBI FOIA person called me directly late in the day sometime afterward. I think he was hoping to get away with just leaving a voicemail, but I picked up. And he sounded really nervous–talking really fast, tripping over words. He also fibbed about why he brought up the fish, calling it a “poor attempt at humor.” It was all so very weird, and I always had the feeling that he knew more. But his nervousness…or at least what I perceived to be nervousness…has always stuck with me.
No surprise, here! We were just waiting patiently for your concrete piece of info to confirm it. And here we are! Thankfully, it was much sooner than later!
And from your July 7, 2021 post, “The eager, anguished fingerprint expungement of June 2002,” about where we were the day 9/11 happened… this just might support my theory about Ron’s expungement request per our July 8th post discussion of a possible “post-9/11 security threat” that would have exposed his identity from his own prints!
This is HUGE!!!! Great work, Jenny!
Btw, Happy Holidays!
Thank you so much! Great to hear from you! And yes…there may have been something 9/11-related that brought it all out. I’ll keep digging.
I feel there must have been some serious desperation on his part—that he needed to act fast or such a threat would have blown his cover faster than he ever realized. The pieces of the puzzle are fitting into place!
Wow. I just wish I knew how to get to the answer.
That looks solid!
Very, very, very well done.
Will wait for more as always but dang.
Now just waiting for official word 👍
Thank you! And good to hear from you!