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Prisoner wins access to DEA investigatory records

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  1. Freedom of Information
Prisoner wins access to DEA investigatory records05/20/96 WASHINGTON, D.C.--Former federal prisoner and convicted felon Brett Kimberlin, who once charged that…

Prisoner wins access to DEA investigatory records

05/20/96

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Former federal prisoner and convicted felon Brett Kimberlin, who once charged that federal prison officials silenced and punished him for claiming that he had sold marijuana to Dan Quayle, in mid-April won access to Drug Enforcement Agency records that had previously been released to the Indianapolis Star, even though the DEA claims the earlier release had been a mistake.

Federal District Court Judge Stanley Sporkin in Washington, D.C. said information Kimberlin sought under the Freedom of Information Act has been made public and is “incapable of being returned to secrecy.”

Allowing the government to withhold information previously disclosed under valid authorization, even a misunderstood authorization, would be “intolerable under the law,” Sporkin said, permitting officials to “selectively disclose non-public information to favored sources and then invoke FOIA exemptions to prevent disclosure to press sources not in their favor.”

The government had denied Kimberlin’s FOI request for files relating to any investigation of Quayle even after Kimberlin agreed to limit his request to documents that had previously been released to the press.

The government claimed further disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of Quayle’s personal privacy and invoked the privacy arm of the FOI Act’s law enforcement exemption to protect the files.

In the judge’s chambers, the government said that an assistant U.S. Attorney had mistakenly exceeded his authority to release information from the Quayle files to an Indianapolis Star reporter, which led to an investigation of how the release was made. Sporkin allowed the government to withhold under the law enforcement privacy exemption records of an investigation into how the information was initially released to the Star. (Kimberlin v. Department of Justice; Counsel: pro se)