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Judge Clears CIA in JFK Records Case

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A federal judge Tuesday rejected the remaining claims from an attorney who sought CIA records on the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert.

Anthony Bothwell sued the CIA in November 2013 for denying his Freedom of Information Act request for materials relating to five people he believes may have been involved in the Kennedy assassinations in 1963 and '68.

Bothwell is a San Francisco attorney who graduated from the John F. Kennedy University School of Law near Oakland and later taught there.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Corley dismissed most of Bothwell's claims in October 2014. She found that the CIA properly denied his request for records on Jean Souetre, a French sniper rumored to have been involved in the attempted assassination of Gen. Charles De Gaulle and who was reportedly in Dallas in November 1963.

The CIA said records on Souetre might reveal classified intelligence sources and methods, which are exempt from release.

In that October 2014 ruling, Corley also found the CIA conducted an adequate search for Bothwell's other FOIA requests, except for records on Johnny Roselli from July 1976.

Roselli was a Chicago mobster associated with Jack Ruby, who killed JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, according to Bothwell. Roselli was murdered in 1976 shortly before he was scheduled to testify before a Senate committee investigating rogue CIA operations.

Two popular conspiracy theories pin the JFK assassination on the CIA or the Mafia.

But in her Nov. 3 ruling, Corley said a new declaration submitted by the CIA sufficiently described the databases it searched, the search terms used, how the database systems work and the people who conducted the search.

Bothwell did not directly challenge the adequacy of the database search, Corley said, but claimed that the CIA should have conducted a hard-copy review of paper files from the Church Committee, a special Senate committee that investigated intelligence activities after the Watergate scandal in 1975 and '76.

Bothwell claimed it was "reasonable to require the CIA to look at one month's worth of paper records in its Church Committee file."

But in granting the CIA's renewed motion for summary judgment, Corley said Bothwell never asked the CIA to look at Church Committee documents in particular. She also found that the CIA's database searches would have uncovered any Church Committee documents that mentioned Roselli's name.

"In other words, any documents relating to both Roselli and the Church Committee would fall within the scope of the search, and any documents solely about the Church Committee but not mentioning Roselli would not be responsive to Bothwell's request," Corley wrote.

She added that Bothwell's argument relies on the unsupported notion that the CIA maintains paper files solely dedicated to the Church Committee investigation.

Bothwell argued that the public interest of learning the truth behind the Kennedy assassinations outweighs any burden on the CIA to conduct a manual search.

Corley rejected that. "Even if that were the case, the relevant legal standards regarding the adequacy of a FOIA search do not take into account the subject matter of a FOIA request," the judge wrote.

She closed the case.

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