can be done either by contradicting the defendant's account of the search procedure or by raising evidence of the defendant's bad faith. Id. at 1384. Here, plaintiff does neither. Instead, plaintiff admits the Department of Defense has made a "sincere" search. Even if Plaintiff did not concede that the defendant acted in good faith, the good faith of the agency's search is not materially disputed on the record. There is nothing in the record that contravenes the supported declarations of the Department of Defense establishing that the Department of Defense conducted a good faith, adequate search for agency records responsive to plaintiff's FOIA request and found nothing.
Plaintiff requested that the Department of Defense conduct a search of the Office(s) of the President of the United States, the public and private records of William Howard Taft, as well as other offices and agencies. As this Court indicated in its previous Order, and now reiterates, the Department of Defense is not required to respond to an FOIA request directed at other agencies.
Plaintiff also claims the President of the United States should have searched records under the possession and control of the President. However, the President never received a proper FOIA request. Plaintiff sent his initial FOIA request to the Secretary of Defense, although he later appealed the response to the President. This is inappropriate since an appeal must be made to the head of the agency to which the original request was sent. See 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i).
Sending an appeal to a different agency does not initiate a proper FOIA request for that agency to conduct a search. For an FOIA request to be processed, it must be directed to the appropriate office within an agency. If plaintiff wishes the Executive Office of the President to conduct an FOIA search for responsive documents, plaintiff must properly submit an FOIA request to that agency.
Plaintiff opposes dismissal in this case because he claims the criminal as well as political implications of the materials he seeks pursuant to the FOIA are too great. There is nothing in the FOIA; however, that requires a court to evaluate the importance of requested information. The only issue before this Court is whether or not the search was reasonable.
Plaintiff claims that defendants' counsel have a conflict of interest in this case because of an association between Department of Defense attorneys and Attorneys General Russell and Day.
Plaintiff claims that Attorneys General Russell and Day are defense counsels' "predecessors in office" since defense counsel are "receiving their pay [in] one form or another [as] Attorneys General." Plaintiff argues there is an inherent conflict of interest because it was Attorneys General Russell and Day who allegedly received in 1904 the stock which is the subject of plaintiff's FOIA request. The Court fails to see the conflict between the defendants' counsel here, and two Attorneys General from 1904.
Plaintiff also contends that the Judge in this case should recuse himself due to a conflict of interest. Plaintiff claims that because the Judge was once employed by two separate government agencies, the Judge "never ceases to represent the government" and should recuse himself in this case. Merely because this judicial officer once worked, over ten years ago, for the Executive Branch of the government does not mean he is precluded from deciding cases under the Freedom of Information Act. Although this Court would not be adverse to higher authority accepting plaintiff's argument and excusing this Court from hearing and deciding cases brought under the FOIA, that event has not yet occurred.
The Court finds the defendants conducted a search that was reasonably calculated to uncover relevant documents, and the search was made in good faith. Defendant's motion for summary judgment will be granted. An appropriate Order accompanies this Opinion.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
This matter comes before the Court on defendant Department of Defense's motion to dismiss as moot, or in the alternative, for summary judgment. For the reasons stated in the foregoing opinion, it is hereby ORDERED that defendant's motion for summary judgment is GRANTED.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE