As the Vaughn indices indicate, some deliberative material includes quotations purporting to represent a portion of a taped conversation. Plaintiff's counsel apparently suspecting that some of those portions have been misrepresented or vary from later interpretations of the tape, seeks to have the portions excerpted as segregable fact. As far as can be ascertained the tapes themselves have been released or are the subject of another FOIA proceeding brought by former Senator Williams directed to the FBI, C.A. No. 81-2321 (D.D.C., filed Sept. 21, 1981). In any event, the disclosure of the excerpts in the documents examined by the Court would disclose the nature of the deliberation taking place. Thus, this general claim for segregation has been rejected.
The Department of Justice relies in part on exemption 6 in seeking to protect the names of FBI agents not primarily involved in the investigation as well as the names and statements of individuals who may have been taped but who were not called to testify at any ABSCAM trial. The exemption is also relied on in part to protect frank appraisals of the reliability of certain individuals who gave information to the Department. Plaintiff's counsel contends that presumably some of the names and statements thus protected are not entitled to exemption 6 coverage because much of the material must have been previously revealed in some form in the course of the extensive discovery that preceded one or more of the ABSCAM trials. The Department of Justice processed the papers in its FOIA section without purporting to determine in each instance whether or not some such limited disclosure may have occurred in at least some instances. As a practical matter this contingency is almost always present in some degree where sweeping, all-inclusive FOIA demands are made of an agency such as the Department of Justice by those in litigation with it. Plaintiff has presented no specific, concrete cases of withheld materials that have been made public in other proceedings and to place upon the Department an affirmative obligation to search thoroughly the possibility that the privacy claimed may have been partially breached in the course of many-faceted proceedings occurring in different courts over a period of prior years would defeat the exemption in its entirety or at least lead to extended delay and uncertainty. There is no indication here that the privacy claims were made in anything but good faith and in accordance with established guidelines.
Plaintiff's counsel places heavy emphasis upon considerations bearing on the public interest which he urges must outweigh exemption claims as the Court balances the conflicting claims of the parties. He suspects the documents disclose a deep plot to discredit former Senator Williams engineered by the prosecutor for his personal aggrandizement. The selected documents reviewed in camera contain no indication of this scenerio but rather demonstrate conscientious deliberation and care on the part of the higher officials involved, many of whom have now apparently been sued by former Senator Williams. Yet those are the papers plaintiff's counsel obviously feels would be most revealing of his "plot" thesis.
Plaintiff's counsel also urges that in view of the high degree of public interest that naturally attaches to an investigation and prosecution of a sitting senator, all investigative material in the Department of Justice's files should be released. FOIA does not bear such a flexible reading. The Act is designed in part to prevent intrusion into sensitive aspects of the government's business. Internal deliberations of the Department of Justice in developing a prosecution, in resolving personnel conflicts, as well as the confidences of informants are to be protected so that its officials may function effectively. The judicial system is well developed to protect those in litigation with the government against overreaching. Indeed, the information before the Court indicates that in various court proceedings there has been full, detailed exploration of former Senator Williams' claims of entrapment and lack of due process, matters which continue to be subject to court examination.
When former Senator Williams brought this series of FOIA cases they were assigned to a single judge and are being conscientiously processed to conclusion. His requests have been expedited, counsel on both sides have been cooperative and diligent, large numbers of documents have been reviewed and released, and the Court has monitored progress from month-to-month. It is in this context that the exemption claims take a different significance. The Department of Justice in this instance has favored disclosure to the limits its responsibilities under FOIA permit and the Court is entirely satisfied that the exemptions claimed are appropriately and necessarily invoked.
Defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted and the complaint is dismissed. An appropriate Order is filed herewith.
For the reasons stated in the Court's Memorandum filed herewith, it is hereby
ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment is granted and the complaint is dismissed.
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