CIA Search for JFK Records Mostly Sufficient

     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge denied most of an attorney’s bid for CIA records on the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy, finding the agency had searched diligently enough to satisfy the law.
     Anthony Bothwell – representing himself – sued the CIA in November 2013 for denying his records request under the Freedom of Information Act relating to five people who he claims may have been involved in the Kennedy assassinations in 1963 and 1968.
     Bothwell describes himself as a San Francisco attorney who graduated from the John F. Kennedy University School of Law near Oakland, and later taught courses there.
     His initial FOIA request sought all records related to three people allegedly connected to JFK’s assassination: Johnny Roselli, Jean Souetre and David Morales,
     As to RFK’s assassination, Bothwell sought records Thane Eugene Cesar and Enrique Hernandez.
     The CIA denied Bothwell’s request as to the JFK connections, saying that if any documents existed they would be exempt from release as “intelligence sources and methods information.” For the two individuals allegedly connected to the Bobby Kennedy assassination, the agency said those records were “operational files” also exempted under FOIA.
     After Bothwell tailored his complaint, the CIA moved to dismiss the case saying it had done all it could for Bothwell. Specifically, the government claimed it had conducted a reasonable search for the records in question and stood behind its “neither confirm nor deny the existence or nonexistence of records” response for the Souetre records, known as a Glomar response.
     Late last year, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley found the CIA’s description of its final search lacked sufficient detail for her to dismiss Bothwell’s case. She did find, however, that the agency’s Glomar response as to Souetre’s records made sense given that he was a French national who may or may not have been looked at by intelligence officers.
     This past week, Corley found that the CIA had provided enough details of its searches for the records Bothwell requested to dismiss most of his case. She noted that the agency had searched two databases and done a paper-records search and found nothing it could release – with the exception of Roselli’s files.
     Corley found the CIA should not have assumed that all Roselli’s files would be found in the JFK assassination database, particularly files generated by the agency in 1976.
     “Neither [CIA officer Martha] Lutz nor CIA counsel when pressed at oral argument represent that any documents regarding Roselli generated in July 1976 would have been placed in the JFK database; instead, the CIA argues that because plaintiff believes such documents are relevant to the Kennedy assassination they should be in the database,” Corley wrote. “The CIA’s response is inadequate; the question is whether the CIA would have placed the responsive documents in the database, and it carefully makes no representation that it has done so or would have done so.”
     She ordered the parties to confer on how to proceed from her by June 29.

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