agency refusal was found arbitrary and capricious. Eudley v. Central Intelligence Agency, supra.
Defendants' letter denying a fee waiver recited seven factors as having been considered: the nature of information requested; the purpose for which the information is sought; the size of the public to be benefitted; the likelihood that tangible public good will be realized as a result of this release; whether disclosure is timely with regard to a matter of current public interest; its relevance to important legal, social or political issues; and whether the material is personal in nature or will serve only the private interests of the requester. Defendant recites these factors, but does not apply them to plaintiff's case.
With regard to the factors the Court notes that the Congressional investigation of President Kennedy's assassination is clearly a matter of public interest. The Kennedy assassination is one of the most talked about events in the history of our nation, and a subject in which the public has demonstrated almost unending interest. See Allen v. Central Intelligence Agency, 205 U.S. App. D.C. 159, 636 F.2d 1287, 1300 (1980). The primary benefit from disclosure of Assassination Committee records, if warranted under the Act, would be to the public. Defendants' unsupported judgment otherwise therefore was a clear error, and constitutes arbitrary and capricious decisionmaking.
Defendants assert two more justifications for the denial in their response to plaintiff's motion: (1) insufficient information was presented to the FBI to show that release to plaintiff would benefit the public; and (2) the requested records have either been published by the Assassinations Committee, made available in the FBI reading room as a result of other requests, or are irrelevant to President Kennedy's assassination. The Court finds they also lack merit.
Mr. Allen informed the FBI in his first letter that he was requesting the records "as part of a program of scholarly research into the work of the Assassinations Committee." He continued: "the performance and cooperation of the (FBI) in this probe and previous investigations into the murder of President Kennedy has been a subject of considerable discussion throughout the years. For this reason I believe the public would be significantly benefited by the release of the requested records, which would clarify the (FBI's) role in what may be the final official inquiry into the JFK assassination." Plaintiff presented sufficient information for the FBI to conclude that release to him would benefit the public at large rather than just the plaintiff himself. Cf. Rizzo v. Tyler, 438 F. Supp. 895 (S.D.N.Y. 1977) (release to inmate of files regarding himself would benefit only inmate, not the public).
Plaintiff has indicated that he does not seek documents available in the FBI reading room. Plaintiff has submitted an affidavit from Professor G. Robert Blakey, a former chief counsel and staff director of the Assassinations Committee. Professor Blakey stated that the Committee did not publish everything it wanted to publish or everything which was relevant to President Kennedy's assassination. The Court accords substantial weight to Professor Blakey's affidavit because it is based on personal knowledge.
For the reasons stated above, the Court grants plaintiff's motion, and orders defendants to waive all search fees and copying costs for records made available to plaintiff as a result of this action. An appropriate order accompanies this opinion.
Upon consideration of plaintiff's motion for waiver of all search fees and copying costs, defendants' opposition, plaintiff's replies, the entire record in this action, and after oral argument on February 4, 1982, for the reasons expressed in the accompanying memorandum opinion, it is by the Court this 19th day of March 1982,
ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for waiver of all search fees and copying costs is granted; and it is further
ORDERED that defendants shall waive all search fees and copying costs for records made available to plaintiff as a result of this action.
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