COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY JUDGMENT
AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
1. This is an action under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5
U.S.C. § 552, as amended, challenging the failure of the Central Intelligence
Agency (“CIA”), to fulfill the request of the Assassination Archives and Research
Center (“AARC”) and James H. Lesar for documents relating to David Harold
Byrd, Werner von Alvensleben, Jr. and the Doolittle Report.
2. This case seeks declaratory relief that defendant is in violation of the
FOIA for failing to fulfill plaintiffs’ request for records, and injunctive relief that
defendant immediately and fully comply with plaintiffs’ request under the FOIA.
JURISDICTION AND VENUE
3. 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).
4. Plaintiff AARC is a non-profit, non-stock corporation, organized in 1984
under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. AARC is committed to
collecting, preserving and making available to the public research materials
relating to political assassinations and related subjects; conducting research and
seminars in the field of political assassinations, and publishing and disseminating
scientific and public information concerning political assassinations and related
subjects. As part of its research and public information functions, AARC uses
government records made available to it under the FOIA. AARC’s archive
contains the largest collection of materials on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in private hands.
5. Plaintiff JAMES H. LESAR is a private citizen and attorney and serves as
President of the AARC. Mr. LESAR has devoted decades of study and research as
to the circumstances of the assassination of President Kennedy.
6. AARC has invested considerable organizational resources in publishing
on the internet large quantities of released U.S. government documents related to
political assassinations and related subjects.
7. The CIA’s failure to comply with the FOIA harms AARC’s ability to
provide full, accurate and current information to the public on matters of high
public interest. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(c). Absent this critical information, AARC
cannot advance its goal of informing the public on the documentary record on
critical public issues related to political assassinations and related subjects.
8. AARC will analyze the information it receives that is responsive to its
request and will share it with the public through memoranda, reports, press
releases. letters, emails, videos and social media. In addition, AARC will
disseminate any documents it acquires from its request to the public through a
website that AARC has founded, www.aarclibrary.org . AARC’s website and the
website of AARC’s partner organization Mary Ferrell Foundation, www.maryferrell.org contain hundreds of thousands of pages of documents AARC has acquired from multiple FOIA requests.
9. Defendant CIA is an agency within the meaning of 5 U.S.C. § 552(f).
Defendant is the federal agency with possession and control of the requested
records and is responsible for fulfilling AARC’s FOIA request.
The Freedom of Information Act
10. The FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552, requires agencies of the federal government
to release requested records or information to the public unless one or more
specific statutory exemptions or exclusions apply.
11. An agency must respond to a party making a FOIA request within 20
working days, notifying that party of at least the agency’s determination whether
or not to fulfill the request and of the requester’s right to appeal the agency’s
determination to the agency head. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i).
12. An agency must respond to a FOIA appeal within 20 working days,
notifying the appealing party of the agency’s determination to either release the
withheld records or uphold the denial. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(A)(ii).
13. In “unusual circumstances,” an agency may delay its response to a
FOIA request or appeal, but must provide notice and must also provide “the date
on which a determination is expected to be dispatched.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(B).
14. The FOIA also requires each agency to promulgate regulations
specifying a fee schedule for the processing of FOIA requests and establishing
procedures and guidelines for the waiver or reduction of fees. 5 U.S.C. §
552(a)(4)(A). Under the FOIA, agencies should produce documents at no charge
to the requester or at a reduced charge if “disclosure of the information is in the
public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public
understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not
primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii).
15. This Court has jurisdiction, upon receipt of a complaint, “to enjoin the
agency from withholding agency records and to order the production of any
agency records improperly withheld from the complainant.” 5 U.S.C.
16. The FOIA provides a mechanism for disciplinary action against agency
officials who have acted inappropriately in withholding records. Specifically,
when requiring the release of improperly withheld records, if the court makes a
written finding that “the circumstances surrounding the withholding raise
questions whether agency personnel acted arbitrarily or capriciously,” a
disciplinary investigation is triggered. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(F).
FACTS GIVING RISE TO PLAINTIFF’S CLAIMS FOR RELIEF
17. On July 4, 2020, AARC and Mr. Lesar sent a FOIA request to the CIA
seeking documents relating to David Harold Byrd, Werner von Alvensleben, Jr.
and the Doolittle Report. Letter from Daniel S. Alcorn, Esq. to CIA, FOIA
Request (July 4, 2020) (attached as Exhibit 1). Specifically, AARC requested:
1. Search for and release all records or information in any format related to
David Harold Byrd (deceased) of Dallas, Texas. Mr. Byrd died on
September 14, 1986 (see attached obituary from the Dallas Times-Herald).
Mr. Byrd owned the Texas School Book Depository Building at the time of
the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, and reportedly removed the
“sniper’s window” from the building after the assassination and displayed it
in his mansion. Mr. Byrd was an owner and financier of government
contracting companies including Texas Engineering Manufacturing
Company (TEMCO), E-Systems, and Ling-TEMCO-Vaught (LTV).
E-Systems was well known as a CIA contractor, so much so that in 1975
CIA solicited E-Systems to purchase its proprietary airline, Air America.
David Harold Byrd was also active in the oil business and varied other
business enterprises. David Harold Byrd co-founded the Civil Air Patrol
(CAP) in 1941 and served in command capacities in CAP until the early
1960’s. Civil Air Patrol is the official auxilary of the US Air Force. In the
1950’s Mr. Byrd served with Cord Meyer, Sr. on the national executive
board of CAP (Cord Meyer, Jr. was a ranking CIA executive).
2. Search for and release all records and information in any format related to
Werner von Alvensleben, Jr. (died 1998), of Mozambique (formerly
Portuguese East Africa). Mr. Alvensleben owned and operated the big
game hunting company named Safarilandia in Portuguese East Africa, later
Mozambique. According to released Office of Strategic Services (OSS)
records, Mr. Alvensleben served as a valued double agent for OSS during
World War II in Portuguese East Africa. OSS records state that Mr.
Alvensleben was a member of the Bavarian Military Police in 1933, headed
by Heinrich Himmler (the Bavarian Military Police became the Nazi SS,
according to OSS records). In 1933 Mr. Alvensleben was sent to Austria to
participate in the assassination of an Austrian official. Mr. Alvensleben was
arrested by the Austrians and imprisoned for this activity. According to
reports in the Dallas Morning News, Mr. Alvensleben was in Dallas, Texas
as a guest of David Harold Byrd in late 1963. Further, David Harold Byrd
was reported to be present at Mr. Alvensleben’s Safarilandia on November
22, 1963, the day of President Kennedy’s murder. Due to Mr.
Alvensleben’s service as a valued double agent for OSS in World War II, it
is likely that Mr. Alvensleben served as an asset of the CIA after the war, or
had contact with the CIA.
3. Search for and release all records and information in any format related to
the Doolittle Report of 1954 and its appendices A-D. The Doolittle Report
was the result of a commission established by President Eisenhower to study
the activities of the CIA and headed by General James Doolittle. The
Doolittle Report called for more aggressive CIA covert activities that had
previously been believed to be repugnant and contrary to American values.
Requesters seek full release of the requested materials. As shown in the
attached obituary of David Harold Byrd, General Doolittle and Mr. Byrd
were substantial friends who shared an interest in aviation from the early
years. Mr. Byrd and General Doolittle were Safari hunting partners on
18. US Postal Service Tracking confirms that AARC and Lesar’s July 4,
2020 FOIA request was delivered to CIA on July 9, 2020. CIA has not responded
to AARC and Lesar’s FOIA request.
19. AARC and Lesar have received no determination on their request.
20. As of the filing of this complaint, the CIA has not provided documents
responsive to AARC and Lesar’s request.
21. CIA failed to make a determination on AARC and Lesar’s FOIA
request within the twenty working days provided in 5 U.S.C.§ 552(a)(6)(A)(i). .
22. The requested records are highly relevant to several official
investigations, including the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of
Investigation, President’s Commission on the Assassination of President John F.
Kennedy (The Warren Commission), the Senate Select Committee on Government
Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (The Church Committee), and
the House Select Committee on Assassinations (The HSCA). As such, the
exception from search and review of operational files does not apply to these
records pursuant to 50 U.S.C. Sec. 3141(c)(3). The Church Committee
investigated the performance of the intelligence agencies in the investigation of
President Kennedy’s assassination and found it wanting. CIA is required to search
operational files and records for information responsive to plaintiff’s request.
Morley v. CIA, 508 F.3d 1108,1119 (2007).
PLAINTIFFS’ CLAIMS FOR RELIEF
(Failure to Produce Records Under the FOIA)
23. Plaintiffs reallege and incorporate by reference all preceding
24. Plaintiffs properly asked for records within the CIA’s possession and/or
25. Plaintiffs are entitled by law to copies of the records requested under
the FOIA, unless defendant makes an explicit and justified statutory exemption
26. The CIA has produced no records to AARC and Lesar.
27. Therefore, the CIA violated FOIA’s mandate to release agency records
to the public by failing to release the records as plaintiffs specifically requested. 5
U.S.C. §§ 552(a)(3)(A), 552(a)(4)(B).
PRAYER FOR RELIEF
WHEREFORE, plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court:
(1) Declare that the CIA has violated the Freedom of Information Act by
failing to lawfully satisfy plaintiffs’ FOIA request of July 4, 2020;
(2) Order the CIA to promptly release all records responsive to plaintiffs’
FOIA request without charge for search or duplication fees;
(3) Order defendants to file a Vaughn v. Rosen index and permit
(4) Award plaintiffs their reasonable attorney fees and litigation costs
reasonably incurred in this action, pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(E); and
(5) Grant such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and
proper, including but not limited to release of any secret appendices to the
Doolittle Report whether numbered or lettered or not.
__/s/_Daniel S. Alcorn_____
Daniel S. Alcorn
Counsel for Plaintiffs
D.C. Bar No. xxxxxx
Xxxxxx Xxxxxxxxxx XXX
Phone: (xxx) xxx-xxxx
James H. Lesar
Co-counsel for Plaintiffs
D.C. Bar No. xxxxxx
XXX Xxxx xxxxxx
Xxxx xx xxxx
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (xxx) xxx-xxxx
Attorneys for Plaintiffs