IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
JUDICIAL WATCH, INC., ) 425 Third Street, S.W., Suite 800 ) Washington, DC 20024, )
Plaintiff, ) Civil Action No.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, ) The Executive Office ) Office of the Legal Adviser, Room 5519 ) 2201 C Street, N.W. ) Washington. DC 20024, )
Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc., through its attorneys, brings this action against Defendant U.S. Department of State to compel compliance with the Freedom of lnformation Act, 5 U.S.C. §552 (“FOIA”). As grounds therefor, Plaintiff alleges as follows:
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
l. This Court has jurisdiction over this action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(B) and 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
2. Venue is proper in this district pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1391 (e).
3. Plaintiff Judicial Watch, Inc. is a not-for-profit, educational foundation organized under the laws of the District of Columbia and has its principal place of business at 425 Third Street, S.W., Suite 800, Washington, DC 20024. Plaintiff seeks to promote transparency, accountability, and integrity in government, politics, and the law. As part of its educational mission, Plaintiff regularly requests access to the public records of federal, state and local government agencies, entities and offices under FOIA to shed light on the operations of the federal government and to educate the public about these operations. Plaintiff then analyzes the agency records and disseminates its findings and the agency records to the public.
4. Defendant U.S. Department of State is an agency of the United States Government and is headquartered at 2201 C Street N.W., Washington, DC 20520. Defendant has possession, custody, and control of records 10 which Plaintiff seeks access.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
5. On May 13, 2014, Plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to Defendant by certified mail, seeking access to:
a. Copies of any updates and/or talking points given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency concerning, regarding, or related to the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
b. Any and all records or communications concerning, regarding, or relating to talking points or updates on the Benghazi attack given to Ambassador Rice by the White House or any federal agency.
6. On May 28, 2014, Defendant acknowledged receipt by mail of Plaintiffs request assigned its request case number F-2014-08848.7. Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i), the Defendant was required to and determine whether to comply with Plaintiffs request within twenty (20) working days after its receipt of the request and to notify Plaintiff immediately of its determination, the reasons therefor, and the right to appeal any adverse determination. Defendant’s determination was due by June 25, 2014.
8. As of the date of this complaint, the Defendant has failed to: (i) determine whether lo comply with Plaintiff’s request; (ii) notify Plaintiff of any such determination or the reasons therefor (iii) advise Plaintiff of the right to appeal any adverse determination; and/or (iv) produce the requested records or otherwise demonstrate that the requested records arc exempt from production.
9. Because the Defendant has failed to comply with the time limit set forth in 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A), Plaintiff is deemed to have exhausted any and all administrative remedies with respect to its request, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(C).
(Violation of FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552)
10. Plaintiff alleges paragraphs 1 through 9 as if fully stated herein.
11. Defendant is unlawfully with holding records requested by Plaintiff pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552.
12. Plaintiff is being irreparably harmed by reason of Defendant’s unlawful withholding of records responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA request, and will continue to be irreparably harmed unless Defendant is compelled to conform its conduct to the requirements of the law.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff respectfully requests that the Court: (1) order Defendant to conduct searches for any and all records responsive to Plaintiffs FOIA requests and demonstrate that ii employed search methods reasonably Likely to Lead to the discovery of records responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA requests; (2) order Defendant to produce, by a date certain, any and all non-exempt records responsive to FOIA requests and a Vaughn index of any responsive records withheld under claim of exemption; (3) enjoin Defendant from continuing to withhold any and all non-exempt records responsive to Plaintiff’s FOIA requests; (4) grant Plaintiff an award of attorney’s fee and other litigation costs reasonably incurred in this action pursuant to 5 U.S.C. §552(a)(4)(E); and (5) grant Plaintiff such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.
Dated: July 21, 2014 Respectfully submitted,JUDICIAL WATCH, INC. /s/ Ramona R. Cotca Ramona R. Cotca D.C. Bar No. 501159
425 Third Street, S. W., Suite 800
Washington, DC 20024
Counsel for Plaintiff
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