Complaint

02/27/2001

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

THE JAMES MADISON PROJECT 1275 K Street, N.W. Suite 770 Washington, D.C. 20005 Plaintiff

v.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Washington, D.C. 20530 Defendant Civil Action No. 01- ________ COMPLAINT This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, et seq., as amended, for the disclosure of agency records improperly withheld from plaintiff The James Madison Project (“JMP”) by defendant Department of Justice(“DOJ”). JURISDICTION 1.This Court has both subject matter jurisdiction over this action and personal jurisdiction over the defendants pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §§ 552(a)(4)(B) and 28 U.S.C. § 1331. VENUE 2.Venue is appropriate under 5 U.S.C. §§ 552(a)(4)(B) and 28 U.S.C. § 1391. PARTIES 3.Plaintiff JMP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation organized under the laws of the District of Columbia and the Internal Revenue Code with the primary purpose of educating the public on issues relating to intelligence gathering and operations, secrecy policies, national security and government wrongdoing. It maintains its principal place of business in the District of Columbia.
4.Defendant DOJ is an agency within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. § 552 (e) and is in possession and/or control of the records requested by JMP which are the subject of this action. COUNT ONE (FOIA REQUEST) 5.By letter dated October 27, 1999, JMP submitted to DOJ a FOIA request which sought disclosure of “the petition by the Central Intelligence Agency (“CIA”) to rescind the authority of the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel to declassify CIA documents, and the resulting denial by the Department of Justice of that request.” 6.By letter dated November 28, 2000, JMP submitted a request for a status report. None was ever received. 7.By letter dated January 16, 2001, the DOJ released a legal opinion dated October 5, 1999, that was authored by the Office of Legal Counsel and responsive to JMP’s FOIA request. The DOJ also noted that footnote 8 of the opinion was redacted at the request of the CIA, that 121 responsive documents were withheld in their entirety and that documents were referred to the DOJ Office of Information and Privacy, the CIA, the National Archives & Records Administration, and the Department of Defense.
8.By letter dated January 23, 2001, JMP appealed the DOJ’s decision. 9.By letter dated February 2, 2001, the DOJ acknowledged receiving JMP’s appeal on January 24, 2001, and assigned it #01-1212.
10.No further written responses have been received from the DOJ or the other agencies to which documents were referred, for which the DOJ is lawfully responsible. 11.The DOJ has failed to comply with the requisite statutory periods which govern compliance under FOIA with respect to JMP’s request. Therefore, the DOJ has wrongfully withheld documents from JMP. 12.JMP has constructively exhausted all required administrative remedies. 13.JMP has a legal right under the FOIA to obtain the information it seeks, and there is no legal basis for the denial by the DOJ of said right. WHEREFORE, plaintiff The James Madison Project prays that this Court: (1) Orders the DOJ to disclose the requested records in their entireties and make copies promptly available to it; (2)Award reasonable costs and attorney’s fees as provided in 5 U.S.C. § 552 (a)(4)(E) and/or 28 U.S.C. § 2412 (d); (3) expedite this action in every way pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1657 (a); and (4) grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.
Date:February 27, 2001 __________________________ Mark S. Zaid, Esq. D.C. Bar #440532 1275 K Street, N.W., Suite 770 Washington, D.C.20005 (202) 371-6626 Attorney for Plaintiff