Felonies and Favors: A Friend of the Attorney General Gathers Information from the Justice Department

Staff Report

United States House of Rerpresentatives
Committee on Government Reform
July 27, 2000


Executive Summary
Rebekah Poston Illegally Obtains Information From the Justice Department
Poston Requests Information on Abe Through FOIA
Rebekah Poston's Lobbying Campaign

Executive Summary

The Committee investigated the efforts of Rebekah Poston, a prominent Miami lawyer and a friend of the Attorney General, to obtain confidential law enforcement information from the Justice Department. The Committee has learned the following:

Rebekah Poston was hired by Soka Gakkai, a large Japanese Buddhist sect, to obtain criminal justice records on a man named Nobuo Abe, the head of a rival Buddhist sect. Soka Gakkai hoped to use these records in a defamation lawsuit against Abe.

Poston hired private investigators who illegally obtained confidential National Crime Information Center (NCIC) records on Nobuo Abe.

Poston then filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to legally obtain this same information on Abe. Long-standing Justice Department policy prohibited the Department from releasing this type of information pursuant to a FOIA request. Moreover, long-standing Department policy prohibited even confirming or denying the existence of a criminal record. Accordingly, Poston's FOIA request was rejected, as was her appeal.

Poston used her influence with the Attorney General's Chief of Staff to obtain a reversal of the Justice Department's position. Poston had at least 22 contacts with senior Justice Department staff regarding her FOIA request. Her contacts resulted in a meeting between her and Associate Attorney General John Schmidt, the third-ranking official in the Justice Department. Schmidt reversed the earlier decision of Richard Huff, the head of the Office of Information and Privacy, who had rejected Poston's FOIA appeal. Huff could recall no other meetings like this in his twenty-five year career.

When the Department of Justice responded to Poston's FOIA request, it stated that it had no records on Nobuo Abe. Poston's investigators believed that the record they had earlier obtained had been deleted by government officials. This deletion, as well as other evidence regarding the record, led a number of individuals involved in the case to speculate that the Abe record had been planted in the NCIC system by individuals associated with Soka Gakkai.

The evidence that Abe's NCIC record was illegally accessed was provided to lawyers at the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility on at least four different occasions. Yet, the FBI and the Justice Department failed to conduct a thorough investigation of these allegations.

There are two deeply troubling aspects to the facts uncovered by the Committee. First, a prominent Florida attorney, a close friend of the Attorney General, was involved in criminal activity. This criminal activity has gone without any investigation or punishment for nearly six years. Now that the Committee has brought these facts to light, Rebekah Poston has refused to answer any questions regarding her activities, citing her Fifth Amendment rights. Second, this same friend of the Attorney General used her influence within the Justice Department to obtain a one-time reversal of long-standing Department policy. The implications of the Justice Department's failures in this case are severe: (1) it appears that the Department does not want to investigate allegations of improper access to its law enforcement databases; (2) it appears that the Department does not want to investigate allegations of wrongdoing by a friend of the Attorney General; (3) it appears that the Department applies a more lenient legal standard to FOIA requests made by a friend of the Attorney General than other FOIA requesters; and (4) the long-standing Justice Department policy of neither confirming nor denying the existence of criminal records relating to non-citizens is in doubt.


Background on Soka Gakkai

Soka Gakkai was formed in 1930 as an organization espousing the reform of Japanese schools. After World War II, Soka Gakkai became affiliated with the Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist sect. Between 1951 and 1991, Soka Gakkai operated as a lay organization affiliated with the Nichiren Shoshu Buddhist sect. During that period of time, Soka Gakkai grew to have approximately 10 million members and assets over $100 billion.[1] Soka Gakkai also controls Komeito, which is the fourth-largest political party in Japan.

In 1991, after years of tension between Nobuo Abe (also known as Nikken Abe), leader of Nichiren Shoshu, and Daisaku Ikeda, leader of Soka Gakkai, the leaders of Nichiren Shoshu expelled Soka Gakkai members from their sect, and severed all ties between the groups. This action sparked extended litigation between the groups that continues to this day. This litigation reached American shores, as Nichiren Shoshu and Soka Gakkai both had extensive U.S. assets and membership.

In June 1992, two Soka Gakkai publications published a controversial allegation by Hiroe Clow, a Soka Gakkai member. Clow stated that in 1963, she traveled to the United States with Nobuo Abe, and was called by Mr. Abe late at night after he was detained by the Seattle police for being involved in an altercation with prostitutes. Ms. Clow stated that she picked Mr. Abe up at the police station, and that no charges were filed against Abe. Clow's charges against Abe were a major embarrassment for Abe and Nichiren Shoshu, and they responded by filing a lawsuit for libel against Clow and Soka Gakkai in Japan. This lawsuit, as well as counterclaims, and related litigation in the United States, was pursued by both sides with little regard for expense, and both sides employed large teams of lawyers and investigators in the U.S. and Japan.

Soka Gakkai International-USA had extensive real estate holdings in the U.S., including a 120-acre compound outside of Miami, Florida. Steel Hector & Davis, a leading Miami law firm, represented Soka Gakkai in connection with its Florida real estate projects, and considered Soka Gakkai a major client.[2] In late 1994, Soka Gakkai apparently asked Steel Hector if it could assist in connection with the Abe lawsuit.

Background on Steel Hector & Davis

Steel Hector & Davis was formed in 1925, and is now one of Florida's largest and best known law firms. The current Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno, served as a partner at the firm prior to her service as Florida State Attorney. When Soka Gakkai was seeking help in getting information from the Justice Department, Steel Hector was a good choice for other reasons as well. John Edward Smith, a senior partner in the firm, was a long-time friend of the Attorney General, and was one of only two lawyers to help her prepare for her confirmation hearings.[3] Rebekah Poston also made Steel Hector a good choice for Soka Gakkai. Poston had just joined Steel Hector as counsel, but she was an experienced white collar defense lawyer, and more importantly, was also a friend of the Attorney General. Poston's sister, Roberta Forrest, served as the campaign manager for Reno when she ran for State Attorney. Poston's sister also worked as a secretary in the State Attorney's office where both Reno and her future Chief of Staff at the Justice Department, John Hogan, worked.[4] Poston describes herself as a friend of the Attorney General, and describes her sister as a close personal friend of the Attorney General.[5]

Rebekah Poston Illegally Obtains Information From the Justice Department

In 1992, Soka Gakkai printed the account of Hiroe Clow, a member of Soka Gakkai. Clow stated that in 1963, she witnessed the arrest of Nobuo Abe, the leader of Nichiren Shoshu, for soliciting prostitutes. Litigation in the U.S. and Japan commenced soon thereafter. Nichiren Shoshu argued that Nobuo Abe, its High Priest, had been defamed by the charges printed by Soka Gakkai. In response, Soka Gakkai argued that Mrs. Clow had been defamed by Abe's repeated statements that Clow's accusations were false. Central to these lawsuits was whether there was any proof that Abe had actually been arrested for soliciting prostitutes in Seattle in 1963. Soka Gakkai's lawyers faced two major problems. First, the incident occurred thirty years earlier, and few records remained, especially since charges were never brought against Mr. Abe. Second, if records did exist, they may have resided in non-public files or databases.

Soka Gakkai Illegally Obtains Information on Nobuo Abe Through Jack Palladino

Soka Gakkai's main lawyer in the United States, Barry Langberg, hired Jack Palladino, a well-known private investigator, to determine whether Abe was arrested in Seattle in 1963.[6] Palladino then apparently contacted a source in the Bureau of Prisons who had access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database. This source accessed the database, and noted the following information:

3/63, NCIC-NATF, Complaint by four females of possible pandering and solicitation by a bald Oriental, male, no english at 12:40 AM, taken in for questioning, at 1:30 AM, no english. detained [sic] and released at 3:30 AM, forwarded by teletype.[7]

This information was then apparently provided to other attorneys working on the case. If this information on Abe was taken from the NCIC database and provided to private parties like Langberg or Palladino, the source at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) broke the law, as did possibly Langberg and Palladino. Federal law prohibits the theft, conversion, or unauthorized conveyance of government records, and cases have been brought for the theft of NCIC records specifically.[8]

Soka Gakkai would later attempt to confirm this record through other sources, and would have great difficulty in doing so. First, it received confirmation through Rebekah Poston and her investigators that there was a record on Abe in the NCIC system, but that it was different from the record viewed by the source at the Bureau of Prisons. Then, subsequently, when Poston tried to access the record through the FOIA process, she was told that no record existed. These later problems, which are discussed in detail below, have led individuals involved in the case to speculate that the NCIC information on Abe was planted there by the initial source at the Bureau of Prisons. This speculation is supported by several factors:

It is unlikely that a computer record would have existed for Abe if he was detained and released in 1963 on a minor charge.

Indeed, in his interview with Committee staff, Phil Manuel, the main investigator who worked for Poston, noted that he believed that the BOP source was a member of Soka Gakkai, and a friend or associate of Hiroe Clow.[9] If that information is true, she would have had the motive to fabricate evidence against Abe.

Other private investigators were unable to verify the information provided by the BOP source.

When conducting a search for records in response to Poston's FOIA request, the Justice Department was unable to find any records on Abe.

If indeed this information on Abe was planted in the NCIC system, it raises serious questions about the stewardship of the NCIC database, and makes the subsequent failure by the Justice Department to investigate this matter even more troublesome.

Poston Requests Her Private Investigators to Break the Law

While Soka Gakkai already had gained access to what purported to be Abe's arrest record, they chose to confirm its existence through another source. It is unclear why Soka Gakkai chose to hire another set of lawyers and investigators to access Abe's record a second time. Perhaps they were concerned with the reliability of Mr. Palladino's work, or perhaps they simply wanted a high degree of confidence in their information before they used it in court in Japan.

Billing records subpoenaed by the Committee indicate that Poston's work for Soka Gakkai began in early November 1994.[10] Poston was one of a number of lawyers hired by Soka Gakkai through their main California-based lawyer, Barry Langberg. While the circumstances of Poston's hiring are not entirely clear, at least one document prepared by individuals working with Poston states that "Steel Hector was hired due to the relationship with the Attorney General."[11] Indeed, Poston confirmed to investigators working for her that she believed that the only reason Steel Hector & Davis was working on this matter was because of the firm's influence in Washington.[12]

Poston had her initial client meeting on the Abe matter on November 2, 1994.[13] Due to an invocation of privilege by Soka Gakkai, the Committee has not learned who met with Poston, or what was discussed. However, immediately after her client meeting, Poston apparently contacted Richard Lucas, a private investigator in Florida who worked with the Philip Manuel Resource Group (PMRG), an investigative firm based in Washington, D.C. Poston retained PMRG to work on the case, and specifically, to determine whether Abe had a record in the NCIC system. Lucas explained Poston's request in a memo to Phil Manuel, the principal in PRMG:

[Poston] called this afternoon asking for assistance on a government inquiry. Her request is unusual and came with the usual promises that it will lead to bigger and better things.

She is attempting to obtain a March 1963 document that substantiates an individual was arrested 30 years ago in Seattle for prostitution. It was confirmed, according to her, through the Federal Bureau of Prisons that they have in there [sic] files a reference of this arrest. [14]

This task, though, proved difficult for Lucas and Manuel to accomplish. Poston's billing records indicate that she had four telephone calls with "investigators" over the next two days.[15] On November 4, 1994, Lucas sent another memo to Manuel:

As you know we received an assignment from Poston and now I am in a precarious position.

It appears the two alternatives are to use a confidential source or tell Poston that we do not want the case. The latter will cause ill feelings since we should have informed her on Wednesday but it is better to be up front now than to incur expenses, not get the information, and burn bridges with the our [sic] only inroad at Steel Hector Davis.[16]

Manuel responded by saying "Poston must realize that SUPERMAN does not exist. There is no confidential source who will give documentary evidence which is not released through proper channels. . . . If the document exists we can get it but it will take time - that's it. She'll have to take it or leave it." [17] After an additional memo from Lucas asking him to reconsider, Manuel wrote "I do not know a confidential source in Seattle which has the authority to hand search criminal files that are not on a computer - remember we have no identifiers like DOB or SSN only a name therefore NCIC sources are useless. Computer files do not go back to 1963. The files must be hand searched by someone with access." [18] Later on November 4, Poston obtained Abe's date of birth, and provided it to Manuel and Lucas to assist them in their search.

Poston Obtains the Information

Using the information provided by Poston, Manuel and Lucas each contacted confidential sources to determine whether Abe had a record in the NCIC.[19] Manuel's source accessed the NCIC database, and told Manuel the information on Abe contained in the database.[20] Lucas contacted a friend, Tony Gonzalez, a retired IRS investigator, to ask for help in obtaining NCIC information on Abe. Gonzalez in turn contacted a confidential source who provided him with the NCIC information on Abe.[21] Several days later, on November 11, 1994, Lucas sent a memo to Poston containing the information that Manuel and Lucas had been able to obtain from their confidential law enforcement sources:

A source was contacted and provided the following information:

1. The source was provided with the identifiers of Nobuo Abe and Noburo Abbe, and the date of birth of December 19, 1922. The source was also told there was no social security number due to the subject not being a U.S. citizen.

2. The source relayed that under the data provided there was a reference to "Solicitation of Prostitution, Seattle Police Department, March 1963." The charge was abbreviated and not spelled out.[22]

The memo then contained a detailed explanation of the NCIC database, as well as an explanation of why information like this would be in the NCIC:

6. The source theorized that if Abe was a Japanese citizen with no U.S. residence or forms of identification, other than a passport, an inquiry might have been made with NCIC to determine if he was wanted on other charges or had previous encounters with law enforcement.[23]

After receiving this information, Poston and Soka Gakkai came back with a number of questions. George Odano, the Soka Gakkai representative dealing with Poston, posed a number of questions to Poston, seeking more detail on the information that the investigators had obtained, as well as confirmation that the information obtained by Manuel and Lucas was accurate.[24] Apparently, one concern was that the information that Soka Gakkai had previously obtained from the Federal Bureau of Prisons was more detailed than the information obtained by Manuel and Lucas. Poston forwarded these questions to Lucas, ordering him to "please get answers to as many of these as you can and be specific. This is a matter of serious importance."[25]

Lucas provided these follow-up questions to Phil Manuel, and Manuel worked to obtain the requested information. Six days later, on November 17, 1994, Lucas wrote another memo to Poston to address Odano's follow-up questions:

A source within the U.S. government in Washington D.C. was contacted and provided the following information:

1. There is no record or information on Hiroe Clow.

2. There is a record for Nobuo Abe. The record refers to "Suspicion of Solicitation of Prostitution, Seattle Police Department, March 1963." There is no reference to Abe's date of birth nor the exact date of the incident. There was no other significant date as to the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident.

3. The confidential source stated that the information on Mr. Abe was an inquiry for information by the Seattle Police Dept. not a recording of an arrest or conviction.

4. The source in Washington D.C. has access to any inquiries made by third parties on Mr. Abe. According to the computer tracking system there have been more than six inquiries on Mr. Abe from various U.S. cities over the last two weeks.

5. The various inquiries by the different government entities has caused concern in the Washington D.C. central office. The source stated the recorded information should never have been entered on Mr. Abe. The source also stated that if Mr. Abe made an official request, the entry under his name would be removed from the record. In addition, it is under consideration that the entire record be removed due to the obvious recent interest by numerous third parties, the date of the alleged incident and the fact it is a "questionable entry."

6. It is our opinion that any effort to obtain the information on Nobuo Abe through an official request be done expeditiously.[26]

Lucas informed Committee staff that Manuel told him that he obtained this information from Ben Brewer, his confidential source in the FBI.[27]

At this point, both Lucas and Manuel were becoming quite concerned with their involvement in the Soka Gakkai matter. Both were under the impression that this would be a small project when they accepted it.[28] In fact, the only reason they accepted it was because Poston was a senior lawyer with a prominent firm with close connections to the Justice Department. Otherwise, PMRG never would have accepted a case so small.[29] However, shortly after they started working on the project, Lucas and Manuel realized that the project was more complicated, and exposed them to significant risks. Lucas told the Committee that it was clear that "essentially you were breaking the law" by doing what Poston had asked.[30] In sum, Lucas and Manuel became convinced that Poston had asked them to expose themselves to a major risk for very little financial reward.[31]

The Information on Abe is Deleted

By December 1994, Manuel and Lucas became concerned that the NCIC record on Abe was going to be deleted. Manuel's source within the FBI told Manuel that there was concern in the FBI about the origin of the Abe record, and that it might be deleted.[32] By early December 1994, Lucas was discussing with Poston actions that Soka Gakkai could take to secure the Abe NCIC record before it was deleted. They discussed seeking a court injunction preserving the Abe record, but apparently decided not to.[33]

By late December 1994, Abe's NCIC record had been deleted. On December 22, 1994, Manuel wrote a memo to Poston in which he described his contacts with a confidential source who accessed NCIC on his behalf:

This is to report that a highly confidential and reliable source has advised as follows regarding the subject of your inquiry:

(1) Whatever files of references, either in data base [sic] form or hard copy form, which were available previously have apparently been purged. There are currently no derogatory references to the subject of your inquiry in any files maintained by or under the control of the Department of Justice or any of its investigative agencies. Specifically, there is no information in NCIC.[34]

Because of the confusion surrounding Abe's NCIC record at this point, Poston apparently went back to the original source of the information on Abe - Jack Palladino's source at the Bureau of Prisons. Poston apparently learned exactly what information the BOP source extracted from the NCIC, and passed this information on to PMRG.[35] Poston asked Lucas and Manuel to determine whether the BOP source's notes were legitimate, and whether that kind of information could have come from databases accessible at the BOP.[36]

It is unclear what, if any, answers Manuel and Lucas were able to provide to Poston. A number of records show that Poston was hiring still more private investigators as late as 1996 to determine what happened to the NCIC records on Abe.[37] It appears that Poston decided that it was crucial to her case to determine where the original BOP source got the information on Abe. It also appears that Poston's desire to get information from the BOP source may have even led her to offer a bribe to the BOP employee. As one memo from 1996 notes:

Poston stated she was told the Bureau of Prison [sic] employee would not come forward due to her pension may be at risk if she was exposed. She added an offer may have been made as to severance pay by the client if that resulted.[38]

Due to barriers raised by Poston and her attorneys, namely the invocation of the Fifth Amendment and attorney-client privileges, the Committee has not been able to learn whether Poston or Soka Gakkai ever made good on this payment to their confidential source.

The Actions Taken Were Illegal

There is no question that the actions taken by Rebekah Poston, Philip Manuel, Richard Lucas, and their confidential sources, were illegal. 18 U.S.C. § 641 provides for felony or misdemeanor penalties for anyone who "embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record . . . or whoever receives, conceals, or retains the same with intent to convert it to his use or gain, knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted[.] " [39] This statute has been used to prosecute individuals who sell or give away government information.[40] It appears that both Poston and the private investigators at PMRG were aware of their legal exposure. Richard Lucas stated that "in direct conversations with Ms. Poston, she commented about her concern that the activities of the unknown Bureau of Prisons employee and the actions taken by PMRG on her behalf could be illegal[.]" [41] There is also a document indicating that Phil Manuel was aware of the risks involved in improperly obtaining NCIC information. On February 15, 1995, an individual named John Sebastian sent Manuel a fax of two newspaper articles with the handwritten note "TITLE: OUT ON THE LIMB." Sebastian then wrote on top of each article a caption stating "THEFT OF NCIC RECORDS." [42] The articles describe police officers prosecuted for selling NCIC printouts.

In addition, the 1996 memo describing Poston's efforts to obtain information from Jack Palladino's source at the BOP raises additional questions about illegal conduct by the Soka Gakkai lawyers and investigators. The memo indicates that Poston may have made an offer that Soka Gakkai would reimburse the BOP source if she lost her pension as a result of coming forward with her confidential information.[43] If these allegations are true, they could constitute a bribe or solicitation for bribery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 201.

Poston Requests Information on Abe Through FOIA

Poston Places FOIA Requests for Information on Abe

On November 21, 1994, Poston submitted FOIA requests to the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and a number of other agencies, requesting information on Abe's alleged detention in Seattle. Given the claims of attorney-client privilege made by parties involved in the investigation, all of Poston's reasons for pursuing the information through FOIA are unknown. However, it appears that information obtained through legal means would be easier to use in the ongoing litigation in Japan. In addition, it appears that Poston had a concern that the Abe record might be deleted from the NCIC database, given the concern within the FBI that it was not a legitimate record.

Poston Publicly Confirms that She Already Has the Information

While her FOIA requests were still pending, in December 1994 and January 1995, Poston took steps that publicly acknowledged the receipt of confidential NCIC records from Manuel and Lucas. First, on December 9, 1994, Poston wrote a letter to Soka Gakkai confirming that she had obtained the NCIC information on Abe:

Your organization has requested us to investigate whether the United States government has maintained any records of an investigation concerning an individual known as Nobuo Abe, a foreign national, born December 19, 1922.

Subsequent to this request, we engaged the Philip Manuel Resource Group, Ltd. (PMRG), a highly prestigious private investigations firm based in Washington, D.C[.]

PMRG reported to us on November 17, 1994, that a source within the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. was contacted and the source confirmed to PMRG that there is a record for Nobuo Abe. According to PMRG's report to us, the record refers to:

Suspicion of Solicitation of Prostitution

Seattle Police Department

March, 1963

I am able to testify as to the truthfulness and accuracy of my statements in this letter.[44]

Poston repeated the same information in a letter sent to Hiroe Clow on January 4, 1995.[45] Shortly thereafter, in a SGI-USA newsletter dated January 9, 1995, Barry Langberg, Hiroe Clow's lawyer, publicly disclosed Poston's letter to Clow.[46] Langberg included the letter in an interview in which he was explaining the progress of Clow's lawsuit against Abe.

Poston's disclosure of the information that PMRG had obtained for her is surprising, given that her activities had been cloaked in secrecy to that point. Moreover, the disclosure by Poston constitutes a public admission that she had hired individuals who broke the law to obtain Abe's NCIC information, with Poston's apparent knowledge and consent. In addition, Poston's disclosure of the information obtained by PMRG constitutes a waiver of any attorney-client privilege or work product protection that she could invoke over those subjects.

Negative Responses to Poston's FOIA Requests

When Poston made her FOIA requests for NCIC information on Nobuo Abe, she was taking on a long-standing Justice Department policy against the release of that kind of information. According to Richard Huff, the Co-Director of the Office of Information and Privacy, the Department has a policy against releasing any criminal justice information to a third party without permission of the party involved.[47] Moreover, in cases where they cannot release records, the Department has a policy against even confirming or denying the existence of criminal justice records within the Department.[48] According to Huff, this policy ensures that individuals who have arrest records, and other records, have those records kept private. As Huff explained to Committee staff, if the Department confirmed when individuals did not have arrest records, and simply said "no comment" when they did have records, any person would be able to determine who had arrest records in the Justice Department.[49] Therefore, according to Huff, the Justice Department's policy of refusing to confirm or deny whether criminal justice records exist is integral to a system that attempts to protect the privacy of individuals involved.[50]

Poston apparently recognized the fact that she was attempting to obtain information in the face of long-standing Justice Department policy. She informed the Committee that she viewed her FOIA request as a long-shot, because she was requesting information on a person that she did not represent.[51] Poston's client, Hiroe Clow, also seemed to recognize that the FOIA request would not be granted, stating in a letter to Janet Reno: "[m]y lawyers tell me that things don't look so good on the F.O.I.A. request if decided in accordance with previous practices." [52] And, as expected, Poston's FOIA requests were rejected. The FBI informed Poston that she could not receive any information on Abe unless she provided either proof of death, or a notarized waiver from Abe.[53] Similarly, the Executive Office of United States Attorneys told Poston that she must provide a notarized waiver by Abe.[54]

Poston met with the FBI to discuss their handling of the FOIA request, and according to Poston, the FBI was receptive to her arguments, but informed her that their general policy was not to release, or even confirm or deny the existence of records about third parties in NCIC without the permission of the third party.[55] According to Poston, the FBI told her that they would like to help her, but that any decision on the release of Abe's NCIC information would have to be made by the Attorney General, not the FBI.[56]

After she received negative responses to her FOIA requests, on February 3, 1995, Poston submitted an appeal to the Justice Department. In her appeal, she argued that the Justice Department should release NCIC records on Abe, based on the fact that there was a significant public interest in whether Abe was arrested in Seattle in 1963; and that as a non-citizen, Abe was not protected by the Privacy Act.[57] However, Poston was aware that her arguments would not likely be accepted by the Justice Department.[58] The Justice Department had an established policy that it would not confirm or deny the existence of the records that Poston was seeking. This policy had been in place for a significant period of time, and Poston's arguments did not change that fact.

Rebekah Poston's Lobbying Campaign

After her unsuccessful meeting with the FBI, Poston began a remarkable series of contacts with the Justice Department, in an effort to reverse the existing Justice Department policy, and obtain whatever information existed on Nobuo Abe in the NCIC system. Between January and June 1995, Poston contacted high-level Justice Department officials at least 22 times regarding her FOIA request.[59] These contacts were made with senior staff in the Office of the Attorney General, the Office of the Associate Attorney General, and the Office of Information and Privacy. Poston began this lobbying campaign even before her FOIA appeal had been rejected by the Justice Department. As she explained in her interview with Committee staff, she understood that her legal arguments were a long-shot, and she believed that she needed to raise this matter at the highest levels of the Justice Department.[60]

Poston's Contacts with John Hogan

Over the next several months, Poston would be in frequent contact with John Hogan, the Chief of Staff to the Attorney General. According to Poston, Hogan is a good friend of hers, and a great friend of her sister.[61] As an example of her family's friendship with Hogan, Poston informed the Committee that at the time of Hurricane Andrew, Hogan invited Poston's sister and Poston to stay with him in his house.[62] Poston initially told Hogan that she was in a "FOIA situation," and wanted to meet with the decisionmakers face-to-face to make her case.[63] Poston explained to Hogan that she wanted him to make an introduction to the relevant individuals who could help her.[64] According to Poston, Hogan told her that "he didn't do FOIA, but would be happy to help her," and he told her that he would check into the matter.[65]

Hogan's account differs in some significant respects from Poston's. First, he downplayed his relationship with Poston. He acknowledged that he knows Poston, but did not describe her as a friend.[66] He similarly downplayed Poston's relationship with the Attorney General, merely acknowledging that Roberta Forrest was a secretary for the State Attorney's Office, failing to mention that she managed Ms. Reno's campaigns for office.[67] Hogan acknowledged that he was contacted by Poston, and that Poston asked him for help with her FOIA appeal. However, he stated that he "did not pay much attention to what she was saying after he heard that it was a FOIA case," and that he generally suggested that she needed to talk to people in the DOJ FOIA office.[68]

Hogan informed the Committee that he believed that he spoke with Poston on less than five occasions.[69] Similarly, Poston estimated that she spoke with Hogan on two to four occasions.[70] However, records subpoenaed by the Committee reveal a remarkable volume of contacts between Poston and Hogan. Between January 26, 1995, and June 2, 1995, Poston contacted John Hogan at least 18 times on the Soka Gakkai matter.[71] While it is possible that some of these contacts were occasions when Poston merely left a message with Hogan, they clearly indicate that Hogan did more than suggest that Poston speak with officials in the Justice Department FOIA office.

Poston's FOIA Appeal is Rejected

During the time that Poston was making these contacts with Hogan, her appeal was rejected by the Justice Department's FOIA office. In a letter dated April 25, 1995, Richard Huff, the Co-Director of the Office of Information and Privacy, rejected Poston's arguments. Huff informed the Committee that he did not spend much time deliberating Poston's appeal, and viewed it as a clear-cut decision.[72] In Huff's mind, the Supreme Court directly addressed this issue:

I find the Supreme Court's holding in United States Department of Justice v. Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press, 489 U.S. 749 (1989) to be controlling in this case. Thus, in the absence of such authorization [from Mr. Abe], and after careful consideration of your appeals from the actions of the EOUSA and the FBI, I have decided to affirm the initial actions of these components in refusing to confirm or deny the existence of records responsive to your request. Lacking an individual's consent, proof of death, official acknowledgment of an investigation, or an overriding public interest, even to acknowledge the existence of law enforcement records pertaining to an individual could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.[73]

At this point, the Office of Information and Privacy, which served as the highest office deciding FOIA appeals within the Justice Department, had spoken. To obtain a reversal would require the intervention of a high-level appointee at the Justice Department.

Attorney General Reno Recuses Herself

On April 28, 1995, only three days after Huff rejected Poston's FOIA appeal, the Attorney General recused herself from the Soka Gakkai matter. In a memorandum to her staff, copied to the Associate Attorney General, Ms. Reno stated:

This is to inform you that I have recused myself from participation in the FOIA appeal made to the Department concerning requests for information relating to Nobuo Abe, a prominent religious leader, on behalf of Mrs. Hiroe Clow.

Apparently, an attorney, who is a close personal friend of mine and participated in my confirmation hearing preparation has requested my intervention in the matter and I want to make it very clear that I have chosen to disqualify myself from any participation and request that no information regarding this matter be brought to my attention.[74]

Poston was asked about the recusal memo, and stated that the memo clearly refers to a contact from John Edward Smith, a close friend of the Attorney General, and a senior partner at Steel Hector who worked on the Abe matter.[75] However, Poston denied having any knowledge that Smith contacted Reno on the Abe matter.[76] In addition, the Steel Hector billing records do not show that Smith billed any time on the Abe matter.[77] John Hogan, the Attorney General's Chief of Staff, similarly believed that the memo referred to Smith.[78] He also claimed that he was unaware that she had recused herself from this matter.[79] Given Smith's death two years ago, the reasons for Janet Reno's recusal are left somewhat unclear:

Who contacted Attorney General Reno? If it was John Smith, why didn't he either inform Poston, who was overseeing the case, or bill his time?

If Smith contacted Reno, why does Rebekah Poston claim to be unaware of the contact? Smith was not the main attorney on the case, and it is difficult to believe that he would contact the Attorney General about the case without informing Poston.

Why did Reno recuse herself from the case? Richard Huff, who has directed the Office of Information and Privacy for almost twenty years, stated that he has never heard of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, or Associate Attorney General ever recusing themselves from a FOIA appeal.

Why was the Attorney General's Chief of Staff unaware that she had recused herself from the case? Hogan claimed that Reno would occasionally recuse herself from matters without informing him.[80] However, it is peculiar that in a matter involving her old law firm and a mutual friend from Florida, the Attorney General would not inform Hogan.

The manner of Reno's recusal raises significant questions about the contacts that led to the recusal. What did Smith ask Reno to do? Hogan stated that in his experience, Reno would "not receive it well if [someone like Smith] asked her for special treatment on behalf of a client." [81] If that is the case, why did Smith, a long time friend of the Attorney General, contact her?

John Hogan Arranges a Meeting with the Associate Attorney General

After the rejection of her FOIA appeal, Rebekah Poston continued her contacts with John Hogan, requesting a meeting with the Associate Attorney General. On May 12, 1995, she wrote to Hogan, and specifically requested a meeting. In a letter marked "PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL," Poston stated that she was "rather disappointed" with the Justice Department's rejection of her FOIA appeal.[82] She then requested the meeting with Schmidt:

Consequently, John Smith, Russell Bruemmer and I believe we must take one last step before deciding whether to initiate litigation on these issues. Believe me, we do not want to bring unnecessary or senseless litigation. Unfortunately, however, we are lacking an understanding, given our arguments and the failure of anyone in the Office of Information and Privacy to address them head on, as to why our appeal has been denied. If you could assist the three of us in scheduling a meeting with Mr. Schmidt, we would like to address our concerns with him. We have not yet attempted to contact Mr. Schmidt.

We trust that Mr. Schmidt will agree to one final conference on this matter; we will of course work with his schedule on a convenient date and time.

I harken [sic] back to the beginning of this matter when you and I first spoke. You commented that you didn't understand why they could not tell whether they have a record or not. Frankly, we would be satisfied with such a response.[83]

Steel Hector & Davis billing records also indicate that Poston called Hogan at least four times in late May and early June, apparently the time when the meeting with Schmidt was scheduled.[84] In her interview with Committee staff, Poston stated that she was asking Hogan to help set up the meeting with Schmidt.[85] Poston stated that Hogan was responsive, and said he would contact Schmidt, and help set up the meeting.[86] When he was interviewed by Committee staff though, Hogan had a different recollection. He stated that he did not even recall Poston asking for help in setting up a meeting with Schmidt.[87] Hogan stated that "I cannot imagine that I would be so presumptuous as to ask Schmidt to meet with anyone." [88] Hogan did allow that it was possible that he forwarded Poston's May 12 letter to Schmidt's office, but does not believe that he ever spoke with Schmidt about this matter.[89]

Hogan's account of how the Schmidt meeting was arranged is troubling. Poston clearly stated that Hogan helped arrange the meeting. The timing and volume of the telephone calls between Poston and Hogan supports the conclusion that Hogan was involved in scheduling the meeting with Schmidt. Under Hogan's account, the 18 contacts from Rebekah Poston go unexplained. Poston continued to contact him, despite the fact that in their initial conversation, Hogan told her that he did not "do FOIA," and directed her to the Office of Information and Privacy. The fact that there were so many more contacts, including contacts shortly before the meeting with Schmidt, supports the conclusion that Hogan was involved in scheduling the meeting. Finally, common sense supports the conclusion that Poston received some assistance in arranging a meeting with the Associate Attorney General on a matter so small as a FOIA appeal. It would be unlikely that the Associate Attorney General would meet with a party on this kind of matter unless there was some special request.

The Justice Department "Reverses its Policy"

Rebekah Poston, John Smith, and Russell Bruemmer met with John Schmidt on June 15, 1995, at 3:30 p.m.[90] Before their meeting with Schmidt, John Smith arranged for the group to visit Attorney General Reno in her office. In her interview, Poston confirmed that John Smith had made this appointment with the Attorney General.[91] Poston stated that this was a social call, and that the group exchanged pleasantries with the Attorney General.[92] For example, Poston stated that the Attorney General asked her how her sister and her children were doing.[93] Poston denied that she, Smith, or Bruemmer discussed the Soka Gakkai matter with the Attorney General.[94] When the Attorney General asked them what brought them to the Justice Department, Smith stated that "we have other business in the Department." [95]

After their meeting with the Attorney General, Poston, Smith and Bruemmer met with Schmidt. According to Poston, Schmidt started the meeting by informing them that he had not yet discussed the matter with Richard Huff.[96] Poston took this as a positive sign, because it meant that Schmidt had an open mind on the subject.[97] On the other hand, it is slightly troubling that Schmidt would not take any steps to educate himself on the Department's FOIA policy before he met with a party who was seeking the reversal of long-standing Department policy. Poston commented on another troubling aspect of the meeting with Schmidt - Schmidt had no staff present at the meeting with Poston.[98] It is strange enough that Schmidt, the third-highest official in the Department of Justice, would even attend a meeting on a FOIA request. It is even more odd that he would attend this meeting by himself, and not seek to delegate this matter to a staffer. Due to Schmidt's failure to recall even the most basic facts about this matter, we cannot determine whether Schmidt recognized that Poston's request was irregular, or whether he simply wanted to work on this matter himself.

Poston informed the Committee that she, Smith and Bruemmer made their points with Schmidt, and he stated that he would take their arguments under advisement.[99] When he was interviewed by Committee staff, Schmidt could recall almost nothing about the entire Soka Gakkai matter. Schmidt did recall that he asked Huff to find out what information the Department had on Abe, and that when he discovered that there were no records, that he decided they could tell that to Poston.[100] According to Schmidt, "it was hard to see the adverse consequences" of confirming that there were no NCIC records on Abe.[101] Schmidt told Committee staff that "Dick [Huff] said he would be comfortable with that." [102]

Richard Huff, though, tells a dramatically different story. Huff stated that Schmidt called him in mid-June to ask about the Poston FOIA appeal.[103] They arranged a meeting for June 22, 1995. At the meeting, Schmidt asked Huff what the Department policy was on releasing this kind of information.[104] Huff told Schmidt that Abe, as a foreign national, was not covered by the Privacy Act.[105] Huff also explained, however, that there was a Department policy against even confirming or denying the existence of criminal justice information on third parties, whether they were U.S. citizens or not.[106] Schmidt asked Huff if they could make a disclosure in this case.[107] Huff responded by saying that they should not vary Justice Department policy in this case.[108] Huff believes that Schmidt also mentioned the fact that Poston was threatening to litigate if she did not receive the information that she had requested. Huff responded by telling Schmidt that the odds were "spectacular" that the Justice Department would prevail in such litigation, given that the Supreme Court had already addressed this precise issue.[109] Schmidt resolved the meeting by asking Huff to find out whether the Department had any NCIC records on Abe.[110]

After his meeting with Schmidt, Huff requested the FBI and the Executive Office of United States Attorneys to search for the requested information on Abe, and they confirmed that they had no information on Abe.[111] Huff communicated this fact to Schmidt.[112] Schmidt asked Huff if the Department could tell Poston that they had no NCIC records on Abe.[113] Huff told Schmidt that they legally could do so.[114] Schmidt then directed Huff to reverse his earlier decision, and confirm in a letter to Poston that they did not have any NCIC records on Abe.[115] Accordingly, on July 11, 1995, Huff wrote to Poston to tell her that:

After considering your Freedom of Information Act request under Attorney General Reno's policy of undertaking discretionary disclosure of information whenever no foreseeable harm would result, Associate Attorney General John R. Schmidt has determined that it is appropriate to disclose the fact that neither the Federal Bureau of Investigation nor the Executive Office for United States Attorneys maintains, or has any evidence of ever maintaining, any record within the scope of your request.[116]

While Schmidt told Committee staff that Huff was "comfortable" with this decision, Huff told a different story, and pointed out a series of remarkable facts about this matter.

First, Huff made it clear to Schmidt that he disagreed with the decision.[117] He told Schmidt that it wouldn't be illegal to release this information, but that he disagreed with the discretionary disclosure. In addition, Huff characterized Schmidt's decision as "unusual." [118]

In his 25 years at the Justice Department, Huff had never had any one-on-one meetings with Schmidt, or any other Associate Attorney General.[119]

When asked how much senior political appointees were involved in FOIA appeals, Huff stated that "typically, there is none." [120]

Huff is aware of involvement of senior political appointees in FOIA appeals in only two other cases. The first case involved a request for notes taken by a Justice Department lawyer relating to an interview of Sandra Day O'Connor before she was appointed to the Supreme Court. The Office of Information and Privacy initially made a decision to grant the request, and this decision was then overturned by a political appointee.[121] The second case involved a request by Terry Anderson, who had been held captive in Lebanon, for criminal justice information possessed by the government on the individuals who had held him captive. The Office of Information and Privacy had denied his request, consistent with Justice Department policy, and then, after significant media attention, political appointees at the Department directed Huff to reverse the decision.[122] Both cases stand in obvious contrast to this case.

It is unclear what effect the Schmidt decision had on Justice Department policy. Huff was asked whether this decision was a change of DOJ policy, or whether it was a one-time departure from existing policy. Huff stated that he believed that it was a one-time departure.[123] When asked if Schmidt offered Huff any reason why this case would be treated differently from any other FOIA case coming to the Department, Huff stated that Schmidt offered no such rationale.[124]


Poston "Wins the Battle, but Loses the War"

When Poston received the July 11, 1995, letter from Huff informing her that Schmidt had decided to disclose the fact DOJ had no NCIC records on Nobuo Abe, she felt like she had "won the battle, but lost the war." [125] When asked to explain why she felt that way, she declined, based on her lawyers' concerns that such an explanation would cause her to disclose the illegal activities conducted on her behalf by PMRG.[126] However, documents obtained by the Committee show how disturbed Poston was to find out that the Justice Department did not have any records on Abe. Huff's letter conflicted with the information that Phil Manuel, Richard Lucas, and Jack Palladino had extracted from confidential sources within the Justice Department. On July 19, 1995, shortly after she got the Huff letter, Poston wrote to Manuel and Lucas to ask them to follow up with their confidential sources:

I need your assistance in helping me explain to my clients the apparent inconsistencies between the letter we received from Richard L. Huff, dated July 11, 1995 and your investigative reports of November 11 and 17, 1994.

Our personal meeting with Deputy [sic] Associate Attorney General John Schmidt resulted in a policy decision by the Attorney General to reverse the original position of the Department of Justice by authorizing the release of the requested record or a statement as to whether it existed in the past. That is a major accomplishment and victory. The result, however, is quite perplexing.

I can only conclude that since a record existed, which your two independent sources verified, the places searched enumerated in Huff's letter must not have been the proper locations. Any other conclusion means that the sources are either not telling the truth or that the record was deleted (a real possibility according to the source in the November 17, 1994 report) without a trace, an impossibility according to former, FBI, S/A Lawler, if the record was ever in NCIC. That is part of the problem.

Our client views this letter as an absolute defeat for them in Japan.

Our client is requesting that each of you ask your sources for an explanation or [sic] where they found the record. The Attorney General's position is clear - its existence and/or its deletion is authorized to be disclosed.

I have the utmost confidence in your reports. We must try our best to resolve this critical issue for our client. Please give this matter your immediate attention. Leave no stone unturned.[127]

Lucas informed the Committee that he took no action in response to Poston's requests.[128] He believes that Phil Manuel's confidential source told Manuel that he believed that Abe's NCIC record was erased, and that there was no evidence of its erasure.[129]

After Lucas and Manuel failed to produce any further information, Poston threatened to make both of them testify at trial in Japan, where apparently, Poston's earlier representations about the existence of an NCIC record on Abe were coming under considerable scrutiny.[130] Lucas refused to go to Japan and instead, Poston drafted an affidavit for Lucas to sign.[131] Lucas refused to sign the affidavit unless Manuel signed one as well.[132] The surprising result was that in September 1995, Manuel and Lucas both executed sworn affidavits regarding their activities in the Abe case, including their illegal conduct in obtaining the information on Abe. Manuel admitted:

11. As part of PMRG's investigation, I contacted a confidential and highly reliable source who I believed would be able to determine whether the federal government had documentary evidence.

12. My source told me that there was a federal government record for Nobuo Abe which referred to "Suspicion of Solicitation of Prostitution, Seattle Police Department, March 1963."

13. My source further told me that the record concerning Mr. Abe reflected that the Seattle Police Department had made an inquiry for information.

14. My source also told me that if Mr. Abe made an official request for the information under his name to be removed from the record, it could be removed.

15. Sometime later, my source informed me that the record concerning Mr. Abe apparently had been purged.

16. I am confident that the information provided to me by the source is accurate and reliable.[133]

Lucas made similar admissions in his affidavit:

9. As part of my investigation for PMRG, I contacted a highly reliable source and advised the source that I was attempting to confirm the existence and the whereabouts of documents in the possession of the federal government related to Mr. Abe. I told this source that Mr. Abe's name is "Nobuo Abe" and that his date of birth is December 19, 1922. I also told the source that Mr. Abe had no social security number because he was not a U.S. citizen.

10. The source later reported to me that he had determined that the federal government did have a record regarding a Nobuo Abe which referred to solicitation of prostitution, Seattle Police department, March 1963.

11. I am confident that the information provided to me by the source is accurate and reliable.[134]

Justice Department Fails to Prosecute Poston or Manuel

One of the Committee's greatest concerns is that the Justice Department has shown no interest in prosecuting the clearly illegal conduct evident in this case. The actions by Poston, Manuel, and Lucas clearly implicate 18 U.S.C. § 641. Any case brought against Poston or Manuel would be exceedingly strong, as it would be bolstered by extensive documentary evidence, as well as the testimony of Richard Lucas. Indeed, Poston and Manuel admit to their illegal actions, in writing, and in Manuel's case, even under oath.

The Justice Department has been provided with this information on a number of occasions. In February 1997, counsel for Nichiren Shoshu, John Gibbons, sent a set of documents to the FBI Washington Field Office.[135] Those documents detailed the fact that NCIC information on Abe had been illegally obtained by Poston, Manuel, and Lucas. Those records were forwarded to the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). On February 19, 1997, David Ries, the Deputy Chief of OPR, wrote to Gibbons, stating that the charges "have no merit."[136] However, Ries did state that the FBI OPR would consider revisiting the issue if it obtained a detailed statement from Richard Lucas. Gibbons provided a detailed accounting of Lucas's testimony in May 1997.[137] In September 1997, Ries responded, stating that "the allegations presented by you and others have been repeatedly brought to the attention of the FBI by numerous individuals in various communications and in various meetings, for a number of years. . . . This review indicates the allegations remain without merit." [138] Gibbons wrote back on September 26, 1997, to ask Ries to at least interview Lucas before he reached any conclusions that the Abe matter was without merit.[139] Ries wrote back one final time on October 16, 1997, to tell Gibbons that OPR would not conduct any further investigation into the Abe matter, and that his "allegations remain without merit." [140]

In addition to numerous attempts made by counsel for Nichiren Shoshu, the Committee has referred this matter to the Justice Department. In 1998, Committee staff met with FBI personnel to explain this matter, and request the FBI to investigate the potentially illegal actions taken by Poston and PMRG.

It is astounding that the Justice Department has refused to take action on this matter. The Department has been provided on repeated occasions with clear-cut evidence of illegal activity. There is both documentary and testimonial evidence that Rebekah Poston, Philip Manuel, and Richard Lucas penetrated confidential law enforcement databases to obtain information on Nobuo Abe. However, the Department has concluded on three separate occasions, without explanation, that these charges are "without merit." Apparently, though, they have not attempted to interview any of the witnesses in this case, including Richard Lucas, who offered repeatedly to be interviewed, against his own legal interests.[141]


Improper access to law enforcement databases is a serious and pervasive problem. While it is not uncommon for investigators to access databases like NCIC without permission, such activity is illegal. The Department of Justice and FBI should take seriously their responsibility to guard the privacy and integrity of the information in law enforcement databases. When confronted with clear evidence that a team of lawyers, private investigators, and law enforcement personnel were improperly accessing the NCIC record of Nobuo Abe, the Justice Department should have taken action, and prosecuted the responsible parties. By failing to investigate this case, the Justice Department and FBI have sent the clear message that they do not value the sanctity of law enforcement databases.

Similarly, Justice Department's handling of Rebekah Poston's FOIA request raises serious questions. Justice Department policy called for Poston's FOIA request to be rejected, without confirming or denying the existence of any record. However, through her contacts in the Office of the Attorney General, Poston was able to obtain special treatment. While the disclosure made by the Justice Department in response to Poston's FOIA request was not criminal, it was an unseemly favor for a friend of the Attorney General. This disclosure makes it appear that the Justice Department places the Attorney General's personal friendships above the judgment of career Justice Department staff and long-standing Justice Department policy. [1] Bob Whitby, The Buddha Brotherhood, Miami New Times (November 11, 1999).
[2] Memorandum from Rich [Lucas] to Phil [Manuel] (November 4, 1994) (Exhibit 5).
[3] Interview of John Hogan at 2 (June 23, 2000) (Hogan Interview).
[4] Interview of Rebekah Poston at 1 (June 29, 2000) (Poston Interview); Hogan Interview at 1.
[5] Poston Interview at 1.
[6] Interview of Richard Lucas at 1 (July 11, 2000) (Lucas Interview).
[7] Memorandum from Rich Lucas to Phil Manuel (December 28, 1994) (Exhibit 19).
[8] 18 U.S.C. § 641; see also facsimile from John Sebastian to Phillip Manual (sic) (February 15, 1995) (attaching two newspaper articles about prosecutions for theft of NCIC records) (Exhibit 27).
[9] Interview of Philip Manuel at 3 (July 18, 2000) (Manuel Interview).
[10] See Steel Hector & Davis billing records at 0000143, 0000154 (Exhibit 47).
[11] Memorandum from Mike Wilson to John Gibbons at 1 (November 27, 1996) (Exhibit 45).
[12] Lucas Interview at 3.
[13] Steel Hector & Davis billing records at 0000154 (Exhibit 47).
[14] Memorandum from Rich Lucas to Phil Manuel (November 2, 1994) (Exhibit 1).
[15] Steel Hector & Davis billing records at 0000154.
[16] Memorandum from Rich Lucas to Phil Manuel (November 4, 1994) (Exhibit 2).
[17] Memorandum from Rich Lucas to Phil Manuel (November 4, 1994) (with handwritten notations of Phil Manuel) (Exhibit 3).
[18] Memorandum from Rich [Lucas] to Phil [Manuel] (with handwritten notations by Phil Manuel) (Exhibit 4).
[19] Richard Lucas informed the Committee that Manuel told him that his source was Ben Brewer, the manager of the Program Support Section within the Administration Division at the FBI. Lucas Interview at 1. Brewer denies that he ever was contacted by Manuel, or that he ever disseminated information on Abe. Interview of Ben Brewer (July 26, 2000). In an interview with Committee staff, Philip Manuel denied that he ever obtained NCIC information, or any other proprietary government information on Abe. Manuel Interview at 2-3. However, whether or not Manuel obtained confidential information on Abe from Brewer, it is clear that he obtained it somewhere. Manuel's interview statement is contradicted not only by Lucas, but also by Manuel's own sworn affidavit, in which he states "I contacted a confidential and highly reliable source" and "my source told me that there was a federal government record for Nobuo Abe which referred to "Suspicion of Solicitation of Prostitution, Seattle Police Department, March 1963.'"
[20] Lucas Interview at 1.
[21] Id.
[22] Memorandum from Richard Lucas to Rebekah Poston (November 11, 1994) (Exhibit 8).
[23] Id.
[24] Facsimile from Rebekah Poston to Richard Lucas (November 11, 1994) (attaching November 10, 1994 letter from George Odano to Rebekah Poston) (Exhibit 9).
[25] Id.
[26] Memorandum from Richard Lucas to Rebekah Poston (November 17, 1994) (Exhibit 10).
[27] Lucas Interview at 2. In an interview with Committee staff, Brewer denied that he was the source of any NCIC information on Abe. Again, whether or not Manuel obtained the information from Brewer, it is clear that he obtained it from some source. Manuel denied in his Committee interview

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