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STEINBERG v. U.S. DOJ

September 30, 1992

MICHELE STEINBERG, Plaintiff,
v.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GERHARD A. GESELL

MEMORANDUM

 This is a Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA") request that, after processing, is ripe for disposition. Defendant's pending motion for summary judgment has been fully briefed and the Court has conducted an in camera inspection of the full text of the documents released to plaintiff in redacted form. *fn1" This inspection and the information contained in the motions provide a sufficient basis for rulings on plaintiff's Renewed Motion to Compel a Further Search and the motion for summary judgment.

 I. Introduction

 Plaintiff, Michele Steinberg, a political associate of presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche, seeks materials from certain FBI offices *fn2" concerning what she alleges is a disinformation effort of the U.S. Government, the Soviet KGB and others to taint LaRouche by involving him with the assassination of Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme. The FOIA request focuses on material plaintiff believes the FBI possessed and turned over or disclosed to Swedish Police or Swedish authorities during the course of investigations by the FBI Boston Field Office into prior LaRouche prosecutions.

 Plaintiff's request was explicit:

 copies of any and all documents pertaining to and surrounding the United States government's release of and/or disclosure of evidentiary material and any other documents turned over to the Swedish Police or other Swedish authorities.

 Documents were found at the Headquarters and Boston Field Office following a search. Some of these papers have been made available to plaintiff in redacted form subject to exemptions claimed, sometimes involving the entire text, as will appear in the following discussion of the summary judgment motion.

 News reports and other published sources have indicated some degree of Swedish interest and U.S. collaboration in the assassination investigation. Plaintiff, noting the complete absence of documentation in the material made available to her concerning the transmittal of information or copies of the information itself, contends that an adequate search was not made and seeks to compel a further search.

 The motion to compel is denied. This is not an instance where the FBI rests on mere conclusory statements. Plaintiff primarily focuses on the search of the Boston Field Office records. These records are not indexed but are contained in various folders under general designations, including one specifically marked as pertinent to Olaf Palme, Prime Minister of Sweden. The Boston Field Office had a variety of involvements with activities of LaRouche and his associates, including a credit card fraud investigation and trial. The designated folder, which contained responsive documents, and certain other folders were searched. See Declaration of Steven C. Auerswald, III, p. 3, filed July 26, 1991. Thus the record discloses an informed, detailed search of likely sources, the accuracy of which was confirmed by duplicate records uncovered through the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys ("EOUSA") headquarters indices. There is no basis for raising serious doubts as to completeness. Perry v. Block, 221 U.S. App. D.C. 347, 684 F.2d 121, 127 (D.C. Cir. 1982).

 Plaintiff's frustration is explicated not by the nature of the search itself but by plaintiff's interest in a matter that involves classified material, genuine privacy interests and on-going law enforcement concerns, all as outlined in the Vaughn index supporting defendant's motion for summary judgment. Having reviewed the released documents in unredacted form, including documents withheld in their entirety, the Court is confident that the relevant files have been searched.

 Further LaRouche prosecutions occurred in Virginia. Plaintiff recognizes that some materials she seeks were transferred to the Commonwealth of Virginia. She suggests the FBI must retrieve them for her but neither the FBI nor Virginia, which is not an agency within the meaning of FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 553(f), are required to search Virginia records and there is no indication that the FBI retained control over these materials.

 The search was adequate and reasonable within the meaning of Weisberg v. Department of Justice, 240 U.S. App. D.C. 339, 745 ...


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