I got in trouble with PNNL because someone thought my daughter might have had access to “Official Use Only” material. The material in question was marked OUO but was never OUO. We managed to get evidence of that after filing a motion to compel with the judge but legally it just didn’t matter. Someone saw the markings, didn’t bother to check to see if the markings were valid, see if Xenia actually had access, and acted accordingly–I lost my job. Here is another document marked OUO: I Found Ted Kennedy’s Safe! (nice demonstration video of .50 BMG capabilities). I reported the OUO material from the TSA about three weeks ago.
What’s interesting to me is that you find quite a lot of stuff if you do a search for “Official Use Only” on Live Search (142,637 items) or Google (about 815,000 items). Most of that is not actually government OUO material but some of it is and was put on websites and indexed when it really shouldn’t have been. And then there is the stuff marked as OUO for political purposes. And even some of the material marked and protected as OUO is still available under the Freedom of Information Act:
The For Official Use Only designation is also used by CIA and a number of other federal agencies, but each agency is responsible for determining how it shall be used. The categories of protected information may be quite different from one agency to another, although in every case the protected information must be covered by one of the nine categories of information that are exempt from public release under FOIA.
Some agencies use different terminology for the same types of information. For example, Department of Energy uses Official Use Only (OUO). Department of State uses Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU), formerly called Limited Official Use (LOU). The Drug Enforcement Administration uses DEA Sensitive. In all cases the designations refer to unclassified, sensitive information that is or may be exempt from public release under the Freedom of Information Act.
The fact that information is marked FOUO does not mean it is automatically exempt from public release under FOIA. If a request for the information is received, it must be reviewed to see if it meets the FOIA dual test: (1) It fits into one of the nine FOIA exemption categories, and (2) There is a legitimate government purpose served by withholding the information. On the other hand, the absence of the FOUO or other marking does not automatically mean the information must be released in response to a FOIA request.
Part of why I’m doing all the FOIA requests is to demonstrate that the material Xenia supposedly had access to, which was a major component the supposed reason I was fired, is in fact available to anyone that asks for it. This doesn’t matter in a legal sense in terms of a wrongful termination lawsuit–they could make up a rule that says people can’t trim their nose hair or some such thing and fire people that do. Of course this is all rather embarrassing to PNNL and they are just ignoring the FOIA requests–because they think the law doesn’t apply to them. The person that said “See this badge? This means the law doesn’t apply to us.” was Newton Brown, who instigated the investigation against me.
More details on the entire story of what happened to me at PNNL including how they let unauthorized people, perhaps including foreign nationals, have access to hundreds of computers with OUO material on them, some other time–I want to reload some ammo this morning before I have lunch with Barb.