by the plaintiff that the defendant is lying is insufficient to establish the existence of a genuine factual dispute as to the origin of the numerical discrepancy.
The plaintiffs next have alleged that the defendant has improperly withheld responsive documents based on a Memorandum dated May 2, 1994, from Special Agent Richard B. Hoke (the "Hoke Memorandum"), which is addressed to "194C-CV-xxxx" (the "X-File"). The Hoke Memorandum details a meeting between Special Agent Hoke, two attorneys, and the plaintiff Nix concerning the plaintiffs' allegations that they were illegally wiretapped. The plaintiffs claim that the X-File is responsive to their FOIA request and should be released.
According to the defendant, the X-File is a cross-reference identifiable with the plaintiff Master. While Master is mentioned in the X-File, the defendant asserts that the X-File relates to "corruption of state and local officials whose subjects are known to plaintiffs." Opp. to Mot. to Stay at 6. More specifically, the alleged illegal activities of the subjects were reported to the FBI by the plaintiffs' attorney. Id. The X-File was not considered a main investigative file concerning the plaintiffs and, thus, the plaintiffs were not indexed as subject or victims in the file. Nevertheless, the defendant alleges that it has already released 61 pages of the 68 pages in the X-File. Furthermore, the remaining documents are to be made available to the plaintiffs when they pay their duplication fees. Thus, contrary to the plaintiffs' assertions, it would appear to the Court that the defendant has identified all the material from the X-File.
As for the pages from the X-File that have been released and/or made available to the plaintiffs, the defendants have redacted certain portions pursuant to FOIA exemption 7(C). The plaintiffs argue that such redaction is improper.
Exemption 7(C) applies to information compiled for law enforcement purposes, the release of which "could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(C). To evaluate the propriety of the defendant's redaction based on Exemption 7(C), the court must balance the privacy interests involved against the public interest in disclosure. Department of Justice v. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749, 103 L. Ed. 2d 774, 109 S. Ct. 1468 (1989).
The defendant declares that the 7(c) Exemption relating to third parties was used here in four instances: to withhold specific information concerning its investigative activities to obtain collaborating evidence of the alleged theft by the X-File subject; to protect the identity of a third party in no way associated with the alleged fraud by wire, mail fraud, corruption of state and local officials, and interception of communications investigations; to protect an individual with a name similar to one of the X-File subjects; and to protect two individuals of investigative interest to the FBI in which the United States Attorney declined prosecution. The plaintiffs assert that the defendant may not rely on Exemption 7(C) because the defendant has redacted the names of the individuals "known to the plaintiffs," namely the two Cleveland police officers reported by the plaintiffs to the defendant for illegal wiretapping.
"'There is little question that disclosing the identity of targets of law-enforcement investigations can subject those identified to embarrassment and potentially more serious reputational harm.' . . . Recognizing this danger, Exemption 7(C) 'affords broad privacy rights to suspects, witnesses, and investigators.'" Safecard Servs., Inc. v. SEC, 288 U.S. App. D.C. 324, 926 F.2d 1197, 1205 (D.C. Cir. 1991); Nation Magazine, 71 F.3d at 896 (Exemption 7(C) "categorically exempt[s] from disclosure" the identities of individuals who are subjects, witnesses, or informants in law enforcement investigations). An agency is permitted to withhold the names and addresses of private individuals unless disclosure is "necessary in order to confirm or refute compelling evidence that the agency is engaged in illegal activity." Nation Magazine, 71 F.3d at 896. Regardless of the plaintiffs' alleged personal knowledge of the identity of the X-Files subjects, the privacy interest in maintaining the confidentiality of their identity is substantial. Contrary to the assertions of the plaintiffs, there is no evidence here that the public knows whether the FBI actually investigated the two officers named by the plaintiffs.
Cf. Nation Magazine, 71 F.3d at 896 (subject of investigation not protected when subject himself made decision to bring information connecting himself with government efforts into the public domain).
In contrast, the public interest in disclosure of the X-File's subjects is insubstantial. This information is not probative of the defendant's behavior or performance. Safecard, 926 F.2d at 1205. Furthermore, the plaintiffs have not pointed to "compelling evidence" that the defendant FBI is engaged in illegal activity. See Nation Magazine, 71 F.3d at 896. Thus, the Court shall hold that the defendant properly relies on Exemption 7(C).
Based on the foregoing, the Court shall grant the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and shall deny the plaintiffs' Motions for a Stay, for Discovery, and for an In Camera inspection of Documents. Consistent with the foregoing Memorandum Opinion, the Court shall enter an order of even date herewith.
CHARLES R. RICHEY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
May 14th, 1996
For the reasons set forth in the Court's Memorandum Opinion of even date herewith, it is, by the Court, this 14th day of May, 1996,
ORDERED that the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment shall be, and hereby is, GRANTED; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiffs' Motion for a Stay shall be, and hereby is, DENIED; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiffs' Motion for Discovery shall be, and hereby is, DENIED; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiffs' Motion for an In Camera Inspection of Documents shall be, and hereby is, DENIED; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that the plaintiffs shall pay the costs of duplicating the released material responsive to their FOIA request in the amount of $ 114.10 within 30 days of the date of this Order; and it is
FURTHER ORDERED that any and all other outstanding motions in the above-captioned case shall be, and hereby are, declared MOOT.
CHARLES R. RICHEY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE