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Assassination Archives and Research Ctr., Inc. v. CIA, No. 17-00160, 2019 WL 1491982 (D.D.C. Apr. 4, 2019) (McFadden, J.)


Assassination Archives and Research Ctr., Inc. v. CIA, No. 17-00160, 2019 WL 1491982 (D.D.C. Apr. 4, 2019) (McFadden, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning any plots to assassinate Adolf Hitler, including CIA's study of such plots in 1963 for plans to overthrow Fidel Castro

Disposition:  Accepting magistrate judge's report and recommendation; denying plaintiff's motion for attorney fees

  • Attorney Fees, Entitlement:  The court relates that "[a]fter [plaintiff] sued to enforce its [FOIA] request, the Central Intelligence Agency released a document that has been publicly available since 2000, but with 96 words and a cover page newly unredacted."  "The litigation was neither protracted nor complex, but [plaintiff] now seeks attorney's fees of nearly $1,000 per word added to the public domain."  Substantively, first, the court finds that, "[o]n balance, then, the public benefit factor weighs only slightly in Assassination Archives' favor."  The court finds that "information about a never-implemented assassination plot that Congress investigated over 40 years ago is only marginally 'likely to add to the fund of information that citizens may use in making vital political choices.'"  "While there is some potential public value in information about a Castro assassination attempt, it is not strong."  "More, [plaintiff's] FOIA request led to a document that was largely in the public domain already."  Regarding the second and third factors, the court finds that "the private incentives in [plaintiff's] search are small, 'but so [is] the expectation-adjusted public benefit.'"  "It is also a 'very close call' here 'whether taxpayers should provide an exogenous incentive for a request' like this one."  "But because the CIA did not object to the Report's finding on the second and third factors, the Court will assume these factors support attorney's fees, though only marginally."  Finally,  the Court finds the fourth factor carries the most weight here with its strong finding in favor of the CIA."  "The CIA made repeated efforts to search the haystack only to find a single document, most of which was already public."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Attorney Fees
Updated January 11, 2022