UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA COMPUTER PROFESSIONALS FOR ) SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ) 666 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E. ) Suite 303 ) Washington, DC 20003, ) ) Plaintiff, ) ) v. ) C.A. No. 93-0231 ) UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE ) 1800 G Street, N.W. ) Washington, DC 20223, ) ) Defendant. ) ________________________________________)
1. This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. ¤ 552, for injunctive and other appropriate relief and seeking the disclosure and release of agency records improperly withheld from plaintiff by defendant United States Secret Service.
Jurisdiction and Venue
2. This court has both subject matter jurisdiction over this action and personal jurisdiction over the parties pursuant to 5 U.S.C. ¤ 552(a)(4)(B). This court also has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ¤ 1331. Venue lies in this district under 5 U.S.C. ¤ 552(a)(4)(B).
3. Plaintiff Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility is a non-profit membership organization, incorporated in the state of California, with an office and full-time staff in Washington, DC. Plaintiff's membership includes a Nobel Laureate and four recipients of the Turing Award, the highest honor in computer science. Plaintiff's activities include the review of federal computing policies to determine their possible impact on civil liberties interests. Among its other activities, plaintiff has prepared reports and presented testimony on computer technology issues at the request of congressional committees. In pursuit of its mission, plaintiff has submitted several requests to defendant Secret Service under the FOIA seeking information concerning the agency's exercise of its jurisdiction to investigate computer crime. 4. Defendant United States Secret Service is an establishment within the Department of the Treasury. The Secret Service is an agency within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. ¤ 552(e). The Secret Service has primary federal jurisdiction over the investigation of computer crime.
The Documents at Issue and Plaintiff's FOIA Request
5. On November 6, 1992, a group of individuals affiliated with 2600 Magazine assembled in the public food court area of the Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia. 2600 Magazine contains articles and letters from its readers concerning computer and telecommunications technology and related issues. The magazine has published articles of public interest since 1984. The magazine publicizes monthly gatherings around the country to enable its readers to meet one another, socialize and exchange information of mutual interest.
6. Soon after the group had assembled, it was confronted by mall security personnel, officers of the Arlington County Police and other unidentified individuals. The group members were ordered to provide identification and their names were recorded by mall security personnel. Several of the group members were ordered to submit to searches of their personal property, some of which was seized by mall security personnel and not returned for several days. The group members were finally ordered to disperse and leave the premises of the mall.
7. During the course of the aforementioned search, membership materials of plaintiff organization, CPSR, were seized.
8. According to a mall security official and representatives of the Arlington County Police, agents of defendant Secret Service were present during the incident and had directed the activities of the mall security personnel. The presence and involvement of Secret Service agents were reported in the media several days after the incident.
9. By letter to defendant Secret Service dated November 10, 1992, plaintiff requested copies of all agency records "pertaining to the breakup of a meeting of individuals affiliated with '2600 Magazine' at the Pentagon City Mall in Arlington, Virginia, on November 6, 1992."
10. By letter to plaintiff dated December 9, 1992 (but received by plaintiff on December 22, 1992), defendant Secret Service asserted that it would "neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigatory information pertaining to the individuals" referenced in plaintiff's request unless plaintiff provided "properly notarized releases" from the individuals. Defendant further stated that the letter "is not a denial of [plaintiff's] request," and that "[u]pon receipt of a perfected request, a search of files will be conducted."
11. By letter to defendant Secret Service dated December 22, 1992, plaintiff noted that its request did not seek "information identifying particular individuals," but rather "the disclosure of information concerning the Secret Service's involvement in an incident that has been widely publicized in [the] media." Plaintiff further noted that, to the extent that the requested information contains references to particular individuals, "the agency might be entitled to invoke [FOIA exemptions] to protect the privacy of those individuals." Finally, plaintiff requested that its letter be treated as an administrative appeal if "the Secret Service does not intend to process [plaintiff's] request as submitted."
12. By letter to plaintiff dated January 7, 1993, defendant Secret Service stated that "[a] search of files responsive to [plaintiff's] request is being conducted" and advised plaintiff that "[w]hen the results of the search are known, you will be contacted."
13. To date, defendant Secret Service has not released any information responsive to plaintiff's request.
14. Plaintiff has exhausted the applicable administrative remedies.
15. Defendant Secret Service has wrongfully withheld the requested records from plaintiff.
WHEREFORE, plaintiff prays that this Court:
A. order defendant Secret Service to disclose the requested
records in their entirety and make copies available to plaintiff;
B. provide for expeditious proceedings in this action;
C. award plaintiff its costs and reasonable attorneys fees
incurred in this action; and
D. grant such other relief as the Court may deem just and proper.
Respectfully submitted, _________________________ DAVID L. SOBEL D.C. Bar No. 360418 MARC ROTENBERG D.C. Bar No. 422825 Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility 666 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E. Suite 303 Washington, DC 20003 Counsel for Plaintiff