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HOLY SPIRIT ASS'N FOR THE UNIFICATION OF WORLD CHR
November 20, 1981
HOLY SPIRIT ASSOCIATION FOR the UNIFICATION OF WORLD CHRISTIANITY, INC., and Bruce A. Brown, Plaintiffs,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Edmund Muskie, Secretary of State, Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINFELD
Plaintiff, the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity, Inc. ("Unification Church") and Bruce A. Brown, its Director of Legal Affairs, petitioned the Department of State and the Central Intelligence Agency ("CIA") for disclosure of "(any) and all material" relating to the Unification Church, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act ("bFOIA").
In response, the Department of State and the CIA retrieved fifty-seven documents. The State Department initially released twenty-two of these documents in their entirety and twenty-eight in part, and withheld seven documents in full. Upon administrative appeal, additional material in four documents was released. Plaintiff then commenced this action to compel release of all the withheld material. In the course of the litigation, the State Department released additional material, and it has now released twenty-eight documents in full. Thus, there remains at issue a total of twenty-nine documents of which twenty-five have been released with deletions and four withheld in their entirety. The defendants claim that this material is exempt from disclosure under one or more exceptions of the FOIA.
Defendants now move for summary judgment on the basis of their Vaughn v. Rosen
index and their answer to plaintiff's Interrogatory 1, including the affidavits of Thomas W. Ainsworth, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Classification and Declassification Center of the Department of State. They urge that the specificity of references contained in all the foregoing establishes that an in camera inspection is not required. Plaintiff makes a cross-motion for summary judgment and, in the alternative, requests that the Court conduct an in camera inspection of the withheld material with the participation of counsel.
The FOIA requires the Court to make a de novo determination of whether or not the defendants are justified in withholding their records and to order the production of any agency records that have been improperly withheld from the complainant.
The FOIA places the burden on the agency to sustain its action, and if its affidavits and actions do not meet its burden, the Court "may examine the contents of such agency records in camera to determine whether such records or any part thereof shall be withheld under any of the exemptions."
This Court has not hesitated to conduct a detailed in camera inspection of agency records where the agency failed to make an appropriate showing for exemption.
In camera inspection under the FOIA is not automatic, however,
and is not required where the agency has submitted affidavits that describe with reasonable specificity the nature of the documents at issue and the claimed justification for nondisclosure, and that indicate the requested material logically falls within the claimed exemption.
There is need for a restrained exercise of discretion with respect to in camera inspection where the government's affidavits and actions make a "plausible" case for exemption.
It is only where the record is vague or the agency claims too sweeping or suggestive of bad faith that a District Court should conduct an in camera examination to look for segregable non-exempt matter ... Where it is clear from the record that an agency has not exempted whole documents merely because they contained some exempt material, it is unnecessary and often unwise to undertake such an examination.
The Court has conducted a line-by-line review of the released documents as redacted, the government's Vaughn affidavit and its answer to plaintiff's Interrogatory 1. The justification for each claimed exemption is set forth in the Ainsworth affidavits. Upon an analysis of all the foregoing, the Court finds that defendants have sustained their burden of proof as to the claimed exemptions; there is no need for an in camera inspection and, accordingly, the defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted. We consider the exemption claims under their respective categories.
Defendants claim that material in 14 documents,
is withheld under Exemption 1. That Exemption requires the government to establish that the withheld matters are:
(A) specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and (B) are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order.
The documents at issue are currently classified under Executive Order ("E.O.") 12065,
which authorizes nondisclosure of matters that meet procedural and two substantive criteria for classification.
Procedural requirements for the documents at issue are described by section 1-606 of the Executive Order.
The section applies to documents originating prior to the effective date of the Executive Order, December 1, 1978, as is true of all of these documents. It requires that classification under the Executive Order be authorized by a Top Secret classification authority and that this authority be exercised personally, on a document-by-document basis. Both of these requirements have been met with regard to each of these documents.
The section also requires that classification of the documents be "consistent with this (Executive) Order." Accordingly, all the documents were classified according to the designations in the Executive Order; all are classified "confidential" except one
that is classified "secret."
Section 1-501 of the Executive Order requires the documents to be marked with "the identity of the original classification authority," the office of origin and the date or event for declassification or review and to be stamped with the proper classification designation. Each of the redacted documents at issue displays the appropriate classification designation, office of origin,
and date or event for declassification.
The original classification determinations under the Executive Order were made by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Clayton E. McManaway. While the documents do not identify McManaway himself, they do identify reviewing officers who made recommendations to McManaway or who reviewed the documents after McManaway's determinations and confirmed them.
Requiring officials involved in the classification process to be named promotes agency accountability by removing the shield of anonymity. The Court finds that this purpose has been adequately fulfilled by naming an officer involved in the original classification process, and, accordingly, that all the redacted documents satisfy this and the other marking requirements of section 1-501 of the Executive Order.
In addition to the redacted documents, one CIA document has been withheld in its entirety.
On the basis of its review of the redacted documents and defendants' Answer to Interrogatory 1 and its finding that the redacted documents bear the required markings, the Court is satisfied that the defendants complied with these requirements with respect to this CIA document. Accordingly, the Court finds that this last document also complies with section 1-501.
Executive Order 12065 also provides special procedures for documents that are classified for more than six years from the date of original classification.
Ten of the documents are scheduled for declassification less than six years from the date of original classification under E.O. 12065 and are not subject to these special procedures.
Four of the documents are classified for more than six years, and these comply with the special procedural requirements for such documents.
Thus, all fourteen documents comply with this and the other procedural criteria of E.O. 12065.
These documents also comply with its two substantive criteria. Under the first requirement, the withheld information must concern one of the categories related to national security specified in the Executive Order.
Under the second requirement, an original classification authority must determine that "its unauthorized disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause at least identifiable damage to the national security."
In the course of preparing the Vaughn index, the documents were reviewed by the Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State responsible for all classification and declassification matters in the Department.
He set up two categories in the Vaughn index to correspond to two categories specified in the Executive Order relating to national security, to wit, "foreign government information" and "foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States."
He determined that ten of the fourteen documents
meet the classification requirements as information "concerning the foreign relations or the foreign activities of the United States."
He also determined that the information was such that "disclosure ... would cause identifiable damage" to the national security.
The reviewing officer also found that five of the documents
were properly classified as information received in confidence from a foreign government official.
Unauthorized disclosure of such information is presumed under the Executive Order to cause at least identifiable damage to the national security.
Thus, the officer determined that the documents concern one of the ...
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