The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kessler, District Judge.
Plaintiff Daniel Ray Bennett brings this action under the
Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552, seeking to
compel disclosure of records from the Drug Enforcement
Administration ("DEA"). This matter is before the Court on
Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [# 13]. Upon
consideration of the Motion, Opposition, Reply, and the entire
record herein, for the reasons discussed below, Defendant's
Motion for Summary Judgment [# 13] is granted in part and denied
On August 25, 1997, Plaintiff sent DEA a letter requesting
information about DEA informant Andrew Chambers. Specifically,
Plaintiff requested chambers' criminal history (including records
of arrests, convictions, warrants, or other pending criminal
cases), records of all case names, numbers, and judicial
districts where he testified under oath, a list of all monies
paid to him in his capacity as DEA informant, all records of
instances where DEA intervened on his behalf to assist him in
avoiding criminal prosecution, and all records of administrative
sanctions imposed on him for dishonesty, false claims, or other
On September 5, 1997, DEA neither confirmed nor denied the
existence of any records on Chambers,*fn2 and informed Plaintiff
that he would need to provide either proof of death or an
original authorization from Chambers in order for the request to
be processed. Plaintiff appealed DEA's action to the Department
of Justice Office of Information and Privacy ("OIP"), and on
November 4, 1997, OIP notified him that his appeal would be
handled in the order in which it was received.
Plaintiff subsequently brought this suit on March 24, 1998. In
its answer to Plaintiff's Complaint, DEA indicated it would
review Plaintiff's request one more time. On September 31, 1998,
DEA informed Plaintiff that it had processed thirty-three pages
of material responsive to his request, and released one page in
its entirety. DEA withheld the remaining thirty-two pages in
their entirety pursuant to Exemptions 7(C) and 7(F), as well as
Privacy Act Exemption (j)(2). 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(7)(C) and (F);
5 U.S.C. § 552a(j)(2).
Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56, a motion for summary judgment shall be
granted if the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on
file, and affidavits show that there is no genuine issue of
material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to judgement
as a matter of law. See Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). In
considering a motion for summary judgement, the "evidence of the
non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are
to be drawn in his favor." Id. at 255, 106 S.Ct. 2505.
FOIA reflects "a general philosophy of full agency disclosure",
Department of Air Force v. Rose, 425 U.S. 352, 360-361, 96
S.Ct. 1592, 48 L.Ed.2d 11 (1976), in order "to facilitate public
access to Government documents". United States Dep't of State v.
Ray, 502 U.S. 164, 173, 112 S.Ct. 541, 116 L.Ed.2d 526 (1991)
(citing John Doe Agency v. John Doe Corp., 493 U.S. 146, 151,
110 S.Ct. 471, 107 L.Ed.2d 462 (1989)). "[D]isclosure, not
secrecy, is the dominant objective" of FOIA. Id. at 361, 96
S.Ct. 1592. The Act "requires agencies to comply with requests to
make their records available to the public, unless the requested
records fall within one or more of nine categories of exempt
material." Oglesby v. U.S. Dept. of Army, 79 F.3d 1172, 1176
(D.C.Cir. 1996) (citing 5 U.S.C. § 552(a), (b)).
In its Opposition, Plaintiff challenges the adequacy of DEA's
search for material responsive to his request, as well as many of
DEA's withholdings under Exemptions 7(C) and 7(F).
FOIA requires an agency responding to a FOIA request to conduct
a reasonable search using methods which can be reasonably
expected to produce the information requested. Campbell v.
United States Dep't of Justice, 164 F.3d 20, 27 (D.C.Cir. 1998).
The burden of proof is on the agency to show that its search was
reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents.
Steinberg v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 23 F.3d 548, 551 (D.C.Cir.
1994). In meeting this burden, the agency may submit affidavits
or declarations that explain, in reasonable detail, the scope and
method of the agency's search; "in the absence of countervailing
evidence or apparent inconsistency of proof, [such affidavits]
will suffice to demonstrate compliance with the obligations
imposed by the FOIA." Perry v. Block, 684 F.2d 121, 127
DEA submitted the affidavit of Kevin Janet, Acting Chief of the
Litigation Unit of the Freedom of Information Section at DEA, who
explained the procedure by which the responsive records were
located. According to Janet, Chambers' coded informant number was
used as a search criterion in DEA's automated Confidential Source
System ("CSS"), and the search ...