Plaintiff is a prisoner in federal custody appearing pro se. In this Freedom of Information Act case, he challenges the invocation by the FBI and the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys of numerous FOIA exemptions in response to his FOIA request for information on himself. The government has moved for summary judgment as to the FBI and has moved to dismiss as to the EOUSA. For the reasons stated below, both motions will be granted.
Plaintiff sent FOIA requests to the FBI and to the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys in 1992. The EOUSA provided 159 pages of records in full in 1993 and withheld 18 pages in their entirety. After further review, EOUSA turned over all the pages it had previously withheld.
The FBI's initial response was to declare all its responsive information exempt from disclosure as law enforcement material subject to FOIA Exemption (b)(7)(A). Plaintiff filed an administrative appeal. After subsequent administrative proceedings, the FBI released some documents to plaintiff and continued to withhold others.
The basis for the FBI's position, established by the affidavit of Special Agent Moran, is that the responsive documents are part of the file of an FBI racketeering investigation that was commenced in 1988 by FBI Newark, in conjunction with the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, that is still going on. Plaintiff was arrested as a result of that investigation. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced for narcotics violations.
The FBI used Exemption 2 to withhold DEA code numbers assigned to known and suspected drug violators and to withhold purely administrative and budgetary information. Exemption 2 was also invoked to protect symbol numbers and letters used internally by the FBI to identify confidential sources. According to the FBI's affiant, the release of DEA and FBI codes, identification numbers, and other internal information might severely hamper enforcement investigatory activities and allow suspects to evade apprehension by changing their criminal activity. Release of informant codes could jeopardize investigations by frightening away and/or endangering the lives of informants. Those justifications amply support the use of Exemption 2 in these circumstances. Crooker v. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, 216 U.S. App. D.C. 232, 670 F.2d 1051, 1074 (D.C. Cir. 1981) (en banc).
Some of the information responsive to plaintiff's request would reveal the identities of grand jury witnesses, the substance of their testimony, the strategy or direction of the grand jury investigation, and the deliberations or questions of the jurors. FOIA Exemption 3 allows the withholding of information prohibited from disclosure by other statutes, and its use here to protect grand jury information as well as information relating to the lawful interception of communications by the FBI pursuant to Title III of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 was proper. Fund for Constitutional Government v. National Archives and Records Service, 211 U.S. App. D.C. 267, 656 F.2d 856, 869 (D.C. Cir. 1981); Lam Lek Chong v. DEA, 289 U.S. App. D.C. 136, 929 F.2d 729, 733 (D.C. Cir. 1991).
The FBI's resort to Exemption 7 was also appropriate. Special Agent Moran's affidavit carefully identifies the subsections of Exemption 7 that are applicable:
. Exemption 7(A) was applied to a criminal investigative file concerning an ongoing criminal investigation of organized crime activities including narcotics, gambling, stolen property and loan sharking. It was properly applied.
. Exemption 7(C) was asserted to protect the identities of FBI agents responsible for conducting and/or supervising the investigative activities reported, as well as the identities of FBI support personnel and other federal law enforcement officers and the names, initials and identifying information regarding cooperating non-federal law enforcement officers. The routine withholding of identities of law enforcement personnel, as in this case, is supported by Lesar v. Dept. of Justice, 204 U.S. App. D.C. 200, 636 F.2d 472, 488 (D.C. Cir. 1980). No public interest supports making public such information.