The opinion of the court was delivered by: GLADYS KESSLER, District Judge
Plaintiff, a federal inmate proceeding pro se, brought this
action pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"),
5 U.S.C. § 552. In a previous Order, the Court granted summary
judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's challenges to the
disposition of his FOIA requests by the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms ("ATF") and the Executive Office for United
States Attorneys ("EOUSA"), and the disposition of document
referrals by the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), the
Drug Enforcement Administration ("DEA"), the Internal Revenue
Service ("IRS"), and ATF.*fn1 The remaining FOIA claim
involves Plaintiff's 1996 request to the FBI. Defendant has moved
for summary judgment and Plaintiff has filed a cross-motion for
summary judgment or partial summary judgment. Background
On August 15, 1996, pursuant to the FOIA, Plaintiff sent a
letter to the FBI
All files concerning my case or cases, including any
and all records pertaining to the requestor, kept,
stored, or filed in any of the agency's
record-keeping systems, whether they be manually
filed, electronically-filed, or computerized
retrieval systems. Records sought include, but are
not limited to, all Confidential Informant(s)
Statements made during debriefing sessions with
government and local agents, FBI investigative
reports, Property Sheets, Lab Reports, Files
Documents, Agents (sic) Notes, Dossier, Tapes and
other recordings, Transcripts, Reports Statements,
Notes Memos and any other Informative Materials or
Data that may be [available] including all
Investigative Records compiled for Law Enforcement
Purposes not exempt as per Amendments in force at the
time; relative to State and Federal investigations
that led to the Federal Case # Misc 2450-P and
Federal Indictment # 3:92CR34-1-P, Letters written
and received with the requestor as the subject, All
correspondence from all law enforcement agencies is
incorporated by reference.
Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment and Counter Motion for Summary Judgment or Partial
Summary Judgment ("Pl.'s Resp."), Exhibit ("Ex.") 1.
On October 30, 1996, the FBI's Charlotte Field Office ("CFO")
advised Plaintiff that it had located records responsive to his
request in main file 245-CE-61794, and that the CFO had concluded
that the records were exempt from disclosure under the FOIA.
Defendant's Motion for Further Enlargement of Time to Complete
Record and Briefing on Summary Judgment ("Deft.'s Extension
Mot."), Second Declaration of David M. Hardy ("Hardy Second
Decl."), ¶ 6 & Ex. B. Plaintiff appealed this decision to the
Office of Information and Privacy ("OIP") at DOJ. Id., Ex. C.
In its disposition of Plaintiff's appeal, OIP advised Plaintiff
that the FBI would make a supplemental release of documents, but
that OIP otherwise upheld the FBI's decision on his FOIA request.
Id., Ex. D. As a result of OIP's decision, the CFO released to
plaintiff 41 pages of public source materials and a witness statement. Hardy Second
Decl., ¶ 9. The CFO withheld certain information from these
records pursuant to FOIA Exemption 7(C). Id.
In addition to this direct request to the FBI, the EOUSA
referred 434 pages of materials responsive to Plaintiff's FOIA
request to that office to the FBI on May 24, 2002. Deft.'s Part.
Mot., Declaration of David M. Hardy ("Hardy Decl."), Ex. B. After
processing the request, the FBI released to Plaintiff 2 pages in
full, 25 pages in part, and withheld 63 pages in full. Id., Ex.
C. The FBI withheld certain records pursuant to FOIA Exemptions
2, 7 (C), (D), and (F). Id. The agency determined that 337
pages of the materials were duplicates. Id., Ex. F. Plaintiff
appealed the FBI's decision on September 4, 2002 to the OIP.
Id., Ex. D. The FBI's action was affirmed by OIP on May 20,
2003. Id., Ex. F.*fn2
The CFO forwarded main file 245F-CE-61794 to FBI Headquarters
("FBIHQ") for a determination of whether the file contained
responsive documents in addition to those referred to the FBI by
the EOUSA. Defendant's Reply in Support of Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment ("Deft.'s Reply"), Declaration of Nancy L.
Steward ("Steward Decl."), ¶ 4. The file is the result of an
investigation involving a number of individuals and contains
approximately 5300 pages of documents. Id. The FBIHQ conducted
a search on March 31, 2005, and determined that 511 pages of the
materials specifically pertained to Plaintiff. Id., ¶ 8. The
FBIHQ concluded that 351 pages with redactions were releasable to
Plaintiff, 11 pages were to be withheld in full, and 149 pages
were duplicative to records previously released to Plaintiff.
Id. Standard of Review
Under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, summary
judgment is appropriate if the pleadings on file, together with
the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to
any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56 (c). Material facts
are those that "might affect the outcome of the suit under the
governing law." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242,
248 (1986). The party seeking summary judgment bears the initial
burden of demonstrating the absence of a genuine issue of
material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322
(1986); Tao v. Freeh, 27 F.3d 635, 638 (D.C. Cir. 1994).
In considering whether there is a triable issue of fact, the
Court must draw all reasonable inferences in favor of the
non-moving party. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255; see also
Washington Post Co. v. United States Dep't of Health and Human
Servs., 865 F.2d 320, 325 (D.C. Cir. 1989). The party opposing a
motion for summary judgment, however, "may not rest upon the mere
allegations or denials of his pleading, but . . . must set forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. The non-moving party must do more
than simply "show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the
material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986). Moreover, "any factual
assertions in the movant's affidavits will be accepted as being
true unless [the opposing party] submits his own affidavits or
other documentary evidence contradicting the assertion." Neal v.
Kelly, 963 F.2d 453, 456 (D.C. Cir. 1992) (quoting Lewis v.
Faulkner, 689 F.2d 100, 102 (7th Cir. 1982)).
The mere existence of a factual dispute by itself, however, is
not enough to bar summary judgment. The party opposing the motion
must show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. See Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-48. To be material, the
fact must be capable of affecting the outcome of the litigation;
to be genuine, the issue must be supported by admissible evidence
sufficient for a reasonable trier of fact to find in favor of the
nonmoving party. See id.; Laningham v. United States Navy,
813 F.2d 1236, 1242-43 (D.C. Cir. 1987).
FOIA cases are typically and appropriately decided on motions
for summary judgment. Miscavige v. IRS, 2 F.3d 366, 368 (11th
Cir. 1993); Rushford v. Civiletti, 485 F.Supp. 477, 481 n. 13
(D.D.C. 1980). In a FOIA case, the Court may award summary
judgment solely on the basis of information provided by the
department or agency in affidavits or declarations when the
affidavits or declarations describe "the documents and the
justifications for nondisclosure with reasonably specific detail,
demonstrate that the information withheld logically falls within
the claimed exemption, and are not controverted by either
contrary evidence in the record nor by evidence of agency bad
faith." Military Audit Project v. Casey, 656 F.2d 724, 738
(D.C. Cir. 1981); see also Vaughn v. Rosen, 484 F.2d 820, 826-28
(D.C. Cir. 1973), cert. denied, 415 U.S. 977 (1974). Agency
affidavits or declarations must be "relatively detailed and
non-conclusory . . ." SafeCard Services v. SEC, 926 F.2d 1197,
1200 (D.C. Cir. 1991). Such affidavits or declarations are
accorded "a presumption of good faith, which cannot be rebutted
by `purely speculative claims about the existence and
discoverability of other documents." Id. (internal citation and
quotation omitted). An agency must demonstrate that "each
document that falls within the class requested either has been
produced, is unidentifiable, or is wholly [or partially] exempt
from the Act's inspection requirements." Goland v. CIA,
607 F.2d 339, 352 (D.C. Cir. 1978) (internal citation and quotation
To obtain summary judgment on the issue of the adequacy of the
search for records under FOIA, an agency must show "viewing the
facts in the light most favorable to the requester, that . . .
[it] `has conducted a search reasonably calculated to uncover all
relevant documents.'" Steinberg v. United States Dep't of
Justice, 23 F.3d 548, 552 (D.C. Cir. 1994) (quoting Weisberg v.
United States Dep't of Justice, 745 F.2d 1476, 1485 (D.C. Cir.
1984)). To meet its burden, the agency may submit affidavits or
declarations that explain in reasonable detail and in a
non-conclusory fashion the scope and method of the agency's
search. Perry v. Block, 684 F.2d 121, 126 (D.C. Cir. 1982). In
the absence of contrary evidence, such affidavits or declarations
are sufficient to demonstrate an agency's compliance with FOIA.
Id. at 127. The agency must show that it made a "good faith
effort to conduct a search for the requested records, using
methods which can be reasonably expected to produce the
information requested." Oglesby ...