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Gmbh v. Central Intelligence Agency

United States District Court, District of Columbia

August 5, 2016

LOOKS FILMPRODUKTIONEN GMBH, Plaintiff,
v.
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, Defendant.

          LOOKS FILMPRODUKTIONEN GMBH, Plaintiff, represented by Kelly Brian McClanahan, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNSELORS.

          CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, Defendant, represented by Heather D. Graham-Oliver, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          BERYL A. HOWELL, District Judge.

         The plaintiff, LOOKS Filmproduktionen GMBH ("LOOKS"), a German documentary film production and distribution company, brings this case against the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA"), asserting two claims: (1) that the CIA unlawfully denied the plaintiff the requested records under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552; and (2) that the CIA wrongfully aggregated the plaintiff's two FOIA requests, in violation of the FOIA and the Administrative Procedure Act ("APA"), 5 U.S.C. §§ 701 et seq. First Am. Compl. ("FAC") ¶¶ 3, 30, 41, ECF No. 25. Pending before the Court are the CIA's motions for summary judgment on the first claim and to dismiss the second claim, Def.'s Mot. Summ. J. ("Def.'s SJ Mot."), ECF No. 16; Def.'s Supp. Mot. Dismiss Pl.'s APA Claim ("Def.'s Mot. Dismiss"), ECF No. 27, and the plaintiff's cross-motion for partial summary judgment on part of the first claim and the second claim in its entirety, Pl.'s Cross-Mot. for Partial Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Mot."), ECF No. 31. For the reasons set out below, the CIA's motion for summary judgment is granted, the CIA's motion to dismiss the second claim is denied as moot, and the plaintiff's cross-motion for partial summary judgment is denied as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         LOOKS[1] alleges that it is currently making a documentary film about Erich Mielke, the former head of the Ministry for State Security, also known as the "Stasi, " of the erstwhile German Democratic Republic, colloquially known as East Germany. FAC ¶¶ 5, 6, 8. On October 11, 2012, LOOKS submitted a FOIA request to the CIA seeking "all records regarding Erich [Fritz Emil] Mielke, Minister of State Security in the German Democratic Republic (GDR)." Def.'s St. Mat. Facts as to Which There Is No Genuine Issue ("Def.'s SMF") ¶ 1 (alteration in original), ECF No. 16-1; Pl.'s Resp. to Def.'s SMF ("Pl.'s SMF Resp.") ¶ 1, ECF No. 30; Pl.'s St. Mat. Facts as to Which There Is No Genuine Issue ("Pl.'s SMF") ¶ 2, ECF No. 31. On October 31, 2012, the CIA's Information and Privacy Coordinator told the plaintiff, in a letter, stating that after "conduct[ing] a search of its previously released documents database for any responsive records, " two responsive documents were located and provided to the plaintiff. Def's SMF ¶ 2; Pl.'s SMF Resp. ¶ 2; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 3. The letter further stated that the CIA "could neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of any other responsive records, " and denied the "request... pursuant to FOIA Exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3)." Def.'s SMF ¶ 2; Pl.'s SMF Resp. ¶ 2. In other words, the CIA issued a Glomar response.[2]

         On December 21, 2012, the plaintiff appealed the CIA's denial of its request and use of a Glomar response, Def.'s SMF ¶ 3; Pl.'s SMF Resp. ¶ 3; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 4, which appeal was denied by the CIA's Agency Release Panel ("ARP") on March 27, 2013, Def.'s SMF ¶ 4; Pl.'s SMF Resp. ¶ 4; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 5. Dissatisfied with this result, the plaintiff sought assistance from the Office of Government Information Services ("OGIS"), a "FOIA ombudsman" charged with the task of resolving disputes between FOIA requesters and the government. On December 17, 2013, the OGIS advised the plaintiff that because the CIA does not process reconsideration requests, the plaintiff should "submit a new request, [referencing its] previous request, " and "refine this request to focus around a specific historical event, without referring to a specific individual." Def.'s SJ Mot., Ex. E to Decl. Martha M. Lutz (Letter from OGIS to Plaintiff, dated Dec. 17, 2013) at 5, ECF No. 16-4; Def.'s SMF ¶ 5; Pl.'s Resp. SMF ¶ 5.

         On February 24, 2014, the plaintiff submitted two new FOIA requests ("2014 FOIA Requests") to the CIA: (1) "for copies of all records about former East German minister of State Security Erich Mielke maintained or created by the Medical and Psychological Analysis Center ("MPAC") or its predecessor Office of Leadership Analysis ("OLA"), " Def.'s SJ Mot., Ex. F to Decl. Martha M. Lutz ("2014 FOIA Requests") at 6, ECF No. 16-4; and (2) "for copies of all records about former East German Minister of State Security Erich Mielke, " excluding "any records maintained or created by the [MPAC] or its predecessor [OLA], " and noting that the request is a "resubmission-with some minor modifications-" of a previous FOIA request, and that the plaintiff expects this new request to be "treat[ed]... as a reconsideration and not as a new request, " id. at 9. See also Def.'s SMF ¶ 6; Pl.'s SMF Resp. ¶ 6; Pl.'s SMF ¶¶ 7, 8. The plaintiff expressly instructed the CIA " not [] [to] combine these [two] requests, as they have been filed separately to allow [the CIA] to process and release records in response to the narrower request... while still processing the records responsive to the broader request." 2014 FOIA Requests at 6 n.1.

         Notwithstanding the plaintiff's instructions, on March 14, 2014, the CIA combined the 2014 FOIA requests and issued a Glomar response "pursuant to FOIA Exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3)" to both, noting that the plaintiff "declined to act on a recommendation proffered by the [OGIS], " and the "purported modifications show[] no alteration to the scope of records being sought." Def.'s SJ Mot., Ex. G to Decl. Martha M. Lutz ("CIA's Glomar Resp. to 2014 Requests") at 1-2, ECF No. 16-5; Def.'s SMF ¶ 7; Pl.'s Resp. SMF ¶ 7; Pl.'s SMF ¶¶ 9, 10. On May 22, 2014, the plaintiff requested that the CIA review the denial "at the appellate level and reverse the unreasonable position your agency has taken" within twenty business days, while maintaining the position that all administrative remedies have already been exhausted because the denial was "in fact a reconsideration of an appellate determination regarding a previous request." Def.'s SJ Mot., Ex. H to Decl. Martha M. Lutz ("Pl.'s Appeal of 2014 Denial") at 3, ECF No. 16-5; Def.'s SMF ¶ 8, Pl.'s SMF Resp. ¶ 8; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 11. In response, on June 19, 2014, the CIA indicated that it "does not have a reconsideration mechanism" and that the plaintiff's May 22, 2014 letter would be processed as "an administrative appeal... to give [the plaintiff] maximum consideration." Def.'s SJ Mot., Ex. I to Decl. Martha M. Lutz at 4, ECF No. 16-5.

         Before a final decision on its appeal, the plaintiff filed the instant lawsuit. Def.'s SMF ¶ 11; Pl.'s Resp. SMF ¶ 11; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 12; see also Compl., ECF No. 1. The following month, on August 8, 2014, the CIA denied the appeal. Def.'s SJ Mot., Ex. J to Decl. Martha M. Lutz ("CIA's 2014 Appeal Denial") at 5, ECF No. 16-5. Shortly thereafter, however, on October 1, 2014, the CIA's Information Management Services Office decided to "reverse its initial Glomar position and accept LOOKS'[s] Feb 22, 2014 FOIA requests." Def.'s SJ Mot., Ex. K to Decl. Martha M. Lutz at 6, ECF No. 16-5. The plaintiff was assured that "[t]he appropriate Agency Directorates have been tasked to conduct a reasonable full text search for records regarding Erich Mielke, " including, due to the age of the potential documents, conducting "manual searches in the CIA's Records Archives." Id. On November 3, 2014, the CIA informed the plaintiff that the search was completed and had located twenty-seven responsive documents, thirteen "of which [were] released in segregable form with redactions made on the basis of FOIA exemption[s] (b)(1) and/or (b)(3), " and fourteen of which were withheld "in their entirety on the basis of FOIA exemption[s] (b)(1) and/or (b)(3)." Def.'s SJ Mot., Ex. L to Decl. Martha M. Lutz at 7; Def.'s SMF ¶ 13; Pl.'s Resp. SMF ¶ 13; Pl.'s SMF ¶ 15. In addition to the documents, the CIA also produced a Vaughn index.[3] See Def.'s SJ Mot., Ex. M to Decl. Martha M. Lutz (" Vaughn Index"), ECF No. 16-6.

         After nearly five months of "confer[ring] in order to determine whether any of the issues in contention may be resolved, " Def.'s Consent Mot. for Extension of Time to File Its Mot. Summ. J. at 1, ECF No. 11, and five extensions of time, the CIA filed its motion for summary judgment on April 2, 2015, see Def.'s SJ Mot. Over a month later, the plaintiff moved for leave to file the operative First Amended Complaint, which was granted. See Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to File Am. Compl., ECF No. 23; Minute Order, dated June 19, 2015; FAC. The CIA subsequently filed a supplemental motion to dismiss the plaintiff's newly asserted second claim seeking relief under the FOIA and the APA. See Def.'s Mot. Dismiss. The plaintiff also filed its own cross-motion for partial summary judgment as to a narrow aspect of the FOIA claim and as to the entirety of the FOIA/APA claim. See Pl.'s Mot.

         After the filing of the plaintiff's opposition and cross-motion, the CIA "re-reviewed all twenty-seven (27) documents responsive to Plaintiff's FOIA request to determine whether any additional information could be released." Def.'s Reply Supp. Summ. J. Mot. and in Opp'n to Pl.'s Cross-Mot. for Partial Summ. J. ("Def.'s Reply"), Decl. of Antoinette B. Shiner ("Shiner Decl.") ¶ 17, ECF No. 42-1. This re-review, undertaken by the CIA on its own initiative, resulted in the release of (1) three documents in full that were previously released in redacted form, (2) additional information in each of the remaining documents that were previously produced in redacted form, and (3) certain information in three documents that were previously withheld in full. See generally id. All three pending motions are now ripe for resolution.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Congress enacted the FOIA as a means "to open agency action to the light of public scrutiny, " Am. Civil Liberties Union v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 750 F.3d 927, 929 (D.C. Cir. 2014) (quoting Dep't of Air Force v. Rose, 425 U.S. 352, 361 (1976)), and "to promote the broad disclosure of Government records' by generally requiring federal agencies to make their records available to the public on request, " DiBacco v. U.S. Army, 795 F.3d 178, 183 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (citing Dep't of Justice v. Julian, 486 U.S. 1, 8 (1988)). As the Supreme Court has "consistently recognized[, ]... the basic objective of the Act is disclosure." Chrysler Corp. v. Brown, 441 U.S. 281, 290 (1979). At the same time, the statute represents a "balance [of] the public's interest in governmental transparency against legitimate governmental and private interests that could be harmed by release of certain types of information." United Techs. Corp. v. U.S. Dep't of Def., 601 F.3d 557, 559 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). Reflecting that balance, the FOIA contains nine exemptions set forth in 5 U.S.C. § 552(b), which "are explicitly made exclusive and must be narrowly construed." Milner v. U.S. Dep't of Navy, 562 U.S. 562, 565 (2011) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted) (citing FBI v. Abramson, 456 U.S. 615, 630 (1982)); see Murphy v. Exec. Office for U.S. Attys., 789 F.3d 204, 206 (D.C. Cir. 2015); Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice (" CREW "), 746 F.3d 1082, 1088 (D.C. Cir. 2014); Pub. Citizen, Inc. v. Office of Mgmt. & Budget, 598 F.3d 865, 869 (D.C. Cir. 2010). "[T]hese limited exemptions do not obscure the basic policy that disclosure, not secrecy, is the dominant objective of the Act." Rose, 425 U.S. at 361.

         The agency invoking an exemption has the burden "to establish that the requested information is exempt." Fed. Open Mkt. Comm. of Fed. Reserve Sys. v. Merrill, 443 U.S. 340, 352 (1979); see U.S. Dep't of Justice v. Reporters Comm. for Freedom of Press, 489 U.S. 749, 755 (1989); DiBacco, 795 F.3d at 195; CREW, 746 F.3d at 1088; Elec. Frontier Found. v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 739 F.3d 1, 7 (D.C. Cir. 2014), cert. denied sub nom. Elec. Frontier Found. v. Dep't of Justice, 135 S.Ct. 356 (2014); Assassination Archives & Research Ctr. v. CIA, 334 F.3d 55, 57 (D.C. Cir. 2003). In order to carry this burden, an agency must submit sufficiently detailed affidavits or declarations, a Vaughn index of the withheld documents, or both, to demonstrate that the government has analyzed carefully any material withheld, to enable the court to fulfill its duty of ruling on the applicability of the exemption, and to enable the adversary system to operate by giving the requester as much information as possible, on the basis of which the requester's case may be presented to the trial court. See Oglesby v. U.S. Dep't of Army, 79 F.3d 1172, 1176 (D.C. Cir. 1996) ("The description and explanation the agency offers should reveal as much detail as possible as to the nature of the document, without actually disclosing information that deserves protection... [which] serves the purpose of providing the requestor with a realistic opportunity to challenge the agency's decision." (citation omitted)); see also CREW, 746 F.3d at 1088 ("The agency may carry that burden by submitting affidavits that describe 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.'" (quoting Larson v. U.S. Dep't of State, 565 F.3d 857, 862 (D.C. Cir. 2009)). While "an agency's task is not herculean[, ]" it must "describe the justifications for nondisclosure with reasonably specific detail and demonstrate that the information withheld logically falls within the claimed exemption." Murphy, 789 F.3d at 209 (internal quotation marks omitted) (citing Larson, 565 F.3d at 862).

         The FOIA provides federal courts with the power to "enjoin the agency from withholding agency records and to order the production of any agency records improperly withheld from the complainant, " 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B), and "directs district courts to determine de novo whether non-disclosure was permissible, " Elec. Privacy Info. Ctr. v. U.S. Dep't of Homeland Sec., 777 F.3d 518, 522 (D.C. Cir. 2015). A district court must review the Vaughn index and any supporting declarations "to verify the validity of each claimed exemption." Summers v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 140 F.3d 1077, 1080 (D.C. Cir. 1998). "In FOIA cases, summary judgment may be granted on the basis of agency affidavits if they contain reasonable specificity of detail rather than merely conclusory statements, and if they are not called into question by contradictory evidence in the record or by evidence of agency bad faith." Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Secret Serv., 726 F.3d 208, 215 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (internal quotation marks omitted) (quoting Consumer Fed'n of Am. v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 455 F.3d 283, 287 (D.C. Cir. 2006)).

         "Ultimately, an agency's justification for invoking a FOIA exemption is sufficient if it appears logical' or plausible.'" Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of Def., 715 F.3d 937, 941 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (quoting Am. Civil Liberties Union v. U.S. Dep't of Def., 628 F.3d 612, 619 (D.C. Cir. 2011)); Larson, 565 F.3d at 862 (quoting Wolf, 473 F.3d at 374-75).

         A district court also has an "affirmative duty" to consider whether the agency has produced all segregable, non-exempt information. Elliott v. U.S. Dep't of Agric., 596 F.3d 842, 851 (D.C. Cir. 2010) (referring to court's "affirmative duty to consider the segregability issue sua sponte ") (quoting Morley v. CIA, 508 F.3d 1108, 1123 (D.C. Cir. 2007)); Stolt-Nielsen Transp. Grp. Ltd. v. United States, 534 F.3d 728, 734 (D.C. Cir. 2008) ("[B]efore approving the application of a FOIA exemption, the district court must make specific findings of segregability regarding the documents to be withheld.") (quoting Sussman v. U.S. Marshals Serv., 494 F.3d 1106, 1116 (D.C. Cir. 2007)); Trans-Pac. Policing Agreement v. U.S. Customs Serv., 177 F.3d 1022, 1028 (D.C. Cir. 1999) ("[W]e believe that the District Court had an affirmative duty to consider the segregability issue sua sponte ... even if the issue has not been specifically raised by the FOIA plaintiff."); see also 5 U.S.C. § 552(b) ("Any reasonably segregable portion of a record shall be provided to any person requesting such record after deletion of the portions which are exempt under this subsection.").

         III. DISCUSSION

         As noted, the plaintiff asserts two claims against the CIA. The first claim, brought under the FOIA, challenges the CIA's response to the plaintiff's two 2014 FOIA Requests, including the adequacy of the search and the applicability of the cited exemptions. See FAC ¶ 30; Pl.'s Mem. Supp. Cross-Mot. Partial Summ. J. ("Pl.'s Mem.") at 6, 13, ECF No. 31.[4] The second claim alleges that the CIA failed to follow its own regulation, 32 C.F.R. § 1900.13(j), when it combined the plaintiff's two 2014 FOIA requests in order to "allow it to continue to argue that LOOKS['s] request was too broad, " in violation of the FOIA and the APA. FAC ¶¶ 38, 41. Each of the plaintiff's claims is addressed separately below.

         A. First Cause of Action-Challenging CIA's Response to Plaintiff's 2014 FOIA Requests

         The CIA seeks summary judgment on the plaintiff's FOIA claim because (1) "the CIA conducted an adequate search of its records systems, " Def.'s Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. ("Def.'s SJ Mem.") at 4, ECF No. 16; (2) "the CIA properly applied FOIA exemptions, " id. at 12; and (3) "all reasonably segregable material has been released to plaintiff, " id. at 20. The plaintiff disputes each of these assertions and, on cross-motion, seeks partial summary judgment on "all withholdings made pursuant to the CIA Act of 1949 which are not personnel-related." Pl.'s Mot. at 1. For the reasons set out below, the Court is persuaded that the CIA is entitled to summary judgment on the plaintiff's FOIA claim.

         1. Adequacy of the CIA's Search

         a. Legal Standard

         Upon receiving a FOIA request, federal agencies are "required to perform more than a perfunctory search" to identify potential responsive records. Ancient Coin Collectors Guild v. U.S. Dep't of State, 641 F.3d 504, 514 (D.C. Cir. 2011). Instead, the agency bears the burden of demonstrating that it "made a good faith effort to conduct a search using methods which can be reasonably expected to produce the information requested.'" DiBacco, 795 F.3d at 188 (internal alterations omitted) (quoting Oglesby, 920 F.2d 57, 68 (D.C. Cir. 1990)). To meet this burden, the agency must "demonstrate beyond material doubt that its search was reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents.'" Valencia-Lucena U.S. Coast Guard, 180 F.3d 321, 325 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (quoting Truitt v. Dep't of State, 897 F.2d 540, 542 (D.C. Cir. 1990)). At the summary judgment stage, an agency may meet this burden by submitting a "reasonably detailed affidavit, setting forth the search terms and the type of search performed, and averring that all files likely to contain responsive materials (if such records exist) were searched.'" Ancient Coin Collectors Guild, 641 F.3d at 514 (quoting Valencia-Lucena, 180 F.3d at 326). Such an affidavit must "explain in reasonable detail the scope and method of the search conducted by the agency.'" See Morley, 508 F.3d at 1121 (internal alterations omitted) (quoting Perry v. Block, 684 F.2d 121, 127 (D.C. Cir. 1982)). "Agency affidavits-so long as they are relatively detailed and non-conclusory'-are accorded a presumption of good faith, which cannot be rebutted by purely speculative claims about the existence and discoverability of other documents.'" Mobley v. CIA, 806 F.3d 568, 581 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (quoting SafeCard Servs., Inc. v. SEC, 926 F.2d 1197, 1200 (D.C. Cir. 1991)); see also DeBrew v. Atwood, 792 F.3d 118, 123 (D.C. Cir. 2015). Only where "a review of the record raises substantial doubt, particularly in view of well defined requests and positive indications of overlooked materials, '" should summary judgment be denied. Iturralde v. Comptroller of Currency, 315 F.3d 311, 314 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (quoting Valencia-Lucena, 180 F.3d at 326).

         b. Analysis

         Here, the CIA initially submitted a declaration from the Information Review Officer ("IRO") in the Litigation Information Review Office, describing the agency components tasked with conducting the searches, the individuals who conducted the searches, \ their qualifications, and the search terms and methods used. See Def.'s SJ Mot., Decl. of Martha M. Lutz ("Lutz Decl."), ECF No. 16-2. As detailed in the declaration, the CIA's records are maintained in decentralized "components" belonging to one of five Directorates-the Directorate of Operations ("DO"), the Directorate of Analysis ("DA"), the Directorate of Science and Technology ("DS&T"), the Directorate of Support ("DS"), and the Director's Area ("DIR").[5] Lutz Decl. ¶¶ 6-7. Upon receipt, a FOIA request is assigned to the CIA's Information Management Services ("IMS") group, where "experienced IMS professionals analyze the request and determine which CIA Directorates reasonably might be expected to possess responsive records." Id. ¶ 6.

         In this case, IMS first forwarded the plaintiff's request for all records "about... Erich Mielke" to the DA, DO and DIR, "the only Directorates reasonably likely to have records responsive to the request" regarding a foreign national. Id. ¶ 30. The DA "is the CIA Directorate that analyzes, interprets, and forecasts foreign intelligence issues and world events of importance to the United States, " and is "responsible for the production of finished intelligence reports for dissemination to policymakers in the U.S. Government." Id. ¶ 9. The DO is "the organization within the CIA responsible for the clandestine collection of foreign intelligence from human sources"; specifically, the DO contains "information on persons who are of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence interest to the CIA and other U.S. Government agencies." Id. ¶ 8. The DIR "is a cluster of offices directly responsible to the Director of the CIA-such as the Office of General Counsel ("OGC"), the Office of Inspector General, the Office of Congressional Affairs, and CIO." Id. ¶ 12. DS&T and DS were not tasked "because there was no reasonable expectation that a search of these Directorates would locate information [about] a minister with a foreign government."[6] Id. ¶ 30. DA, DO and DIR were tasked to conduct "a full-text' keyword search of their respective non-exempt [electronic and hard copy] records repositories using Eric, ' Mielke' and state security' as search parameters." Id. ¶¶ 30-31. Files maintained by the DO that are subject to the "operational file exemption' or ops file exemption, '" under the National Security Act of 1947 ("NSA"), 50 U.S.C. § 3141, were not searched. Id. ¶ 8. In sifting through potentially responsive records, the CIA excluded documents that "incidentally mention[] Erich Mielke, or are merely directories/reference aids listing various leaders within foreign governments, " based on the understanding that these documents are not "about... Erich Mielke, " as requested by the plaintiff. Id. ¶ 34.

         According to the CIA, this declaration "establishes that the CIA has 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, and has conducted a search of all locations that are likely to yield documents responsive to Plaintiff's FOIA requests." Def.'s SJ Mem. at 9-10 (citing Nation Magazine, Washington Bureau v. U.S. Customs Serv., 71 F.3d 885, 892 n.7 (D.C. Cir. 1995); Miller v. United States Dep't of State, 779 F.2d 1378, 1383 (8th Cir. 1985) (citing Nat'l Cable Television Ass'n v. FCC, 479 F.2d 183, 186 (D.C. Cir. 1973))). The plaintiff counters that the CIA has not met its burden of establishing that an adequate and reasonable search was conducted for responsive materials, because the CIA (1) "provided no information about its searches of the [DA, DO, ] and the Director's Area ("DIR") beyond the conclusory assertion that the searches were thorough and reasonably calculated to uncover any relevant material'"; (2) "did not search for records including the term Stasi, ' despite clearly knowing that that was the name by which the Ministry of State Security was best known;" (3) "adopted a very narrow reading of LOOKS' requests"; and (4) "wrongly refused to search entire systems of records under the theory that they were categorically exempt as operational files.'" Pl.'s Mem. at 6 (quoting Lutz Decl. ¶ 31). These four arguments are addressed seriatim below.

          i. The Adequacy of the Declaration Regarding the ...


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