Skip to main content

Abdul-Alim v. Wray, No. 14-30059, 2017 WL 4368618 (D. Mass. Sept. 29, 2017) (Hillman, J.)


Abdul-Alim v. Wray, No. 14-30059, 2017 WL 4368618 (D. Mass. Sept. 29, 2017) (Hillman, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning plaintiff

Disposition:  Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 1:  "[The court] find[s] that in [its] declaration, [defendant] sets forth in detail how the information falls within and meets the requirements of E.O. 13526 and how it could negatively impact national security by revealing information related to intelligence activities."  "[The court] do[es] no[t] find that [defendant's] failure to disclose information to the Plaintiff is compelling evidence that he failed to conduct a thorough and complete search such that this Court should find he acted in bad faith."
  • Exemption 7, Threshold:  "[The court] find[s] that Defendants have established that the information which the FBI designated as being withheld pursuant to Exemptions 7(C), 7(D) and 7(E) . . . was compiled for law enforcement purposes and therefore, the threshold requirement for invoking these exemptions has been met."
  • Exemption 3:  The court relates that "[t]he exempting statute here is Section § 3024(i)(1)[]" which "provides that the Director of National Intelligence . . . 'shall protect from unauthorized disclosure intelligence sources and methods.'"  The court relates that "[defendant] withheld disclosure of the specified information under Exemption 3 after determining that intelligence sources and methods would be revealed if such information were disclosed and further, that disclosure of such information would present a bona fide opportunity for individuals to develop and implement counter measures, resulting in the loss of significant intelligence information."  "While somewhat broad and conclusory, [the court] find[s] this justification establishes that the withheld information logically falls within the statute."
  • Exemption 7(E):  The court finds that "[defendant] has provided sufficient details from which the Court can find that a rationale nexus between law enforcement methods/investigations and potential national security risks if the redacted information were disclosed."
  • Exemptions 6 & 7(C):  "[The court] find[s] that the FBI properly invoked Exemptions 6 and 7(C)."  Regarding the privacy interests at issue, the court finds that "law enforcement agents have a privacy interest in not being identified because publicity, good or bad could seriously prejudice their effectiveness in other investigations[,]" "support personnel and local law enforcement agents . . . could become targets of harassing inquiries and the like[,]" "third parties who were merely mentioned in the counterterrorism investigative files . . . have a substantial interest in not being associated with a counterterrorism investigation[,]" "third parties who were of investigative interest to the FBI . . . had a substantial privacy interest in not being identified as targets of a counterterrorism and/or criminal investigation because being identified as such could carry a strong negative connotation or stigma[,]" and "third parties who were interviewed and/or provided information to the FBI . . . have a privacy interest in having their identities remain private because to be identified as someone who provides information to law enforcement could subject them to harassment, legal or economic reprisal and even physical harm or death."  Regarding the public interest at issue, the court finds that "[t]he focus of Exemptions 6 and 7(C) is the public's interest in being informed about the conduct and actions of the agency."  "Disclosure of the names and any other identifying information . . . would not illuminate the agency's conduct or actions[.]"
  • Exemption 7(D):  "[The court] find[s] that the Defendants have established that the FBI was justified in invoking this exemption."  The court finds that, "[g]iven the nature of the relationship between confidential sources and law enforcement agencies, it is abundantly clear that such sources: (1) play a vital role in law enforcement: (2) at great risk to themselves and their families should their identity become known; and (3) provide information to law enforcement with the express or implied understanding that their identities shall remain confidential."  "Moreover, the confidential source has an interest in not having his role confirmed by the agency."  "Thus the identities of confidential sources are protected even if the requestor has been able to place a name to that person, either through testimony by the source in court proceedings, by the requestor's process of elimination based on information available to him or otherwise."
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  "[The court] find[s] that the Defendants have met their burden of establishing that the FBI disclosed all reasonably segregable portions of the 29 RIP pages have been provided to Plaintiff after redacting those portions for which it claimed exemptions."
  • Litigation Considerations, Relief:  "While [the court] do[es] not question Plaintiff's right to seek to obtain evidence which may assist in his criminal defense and/or may prove exculpatory to the charges against him, he has not cited to any cases in which such interests override the government's withholding of requested information pursuant to justifiably invoked FOIA exemptions."


Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 1
Exemption 3
Exemption 6
Exemption 7
Exemption 7(C)
Exemption 7(D)
Exemption 7(E)
Exemption 7, Threshold
Litigation Considerations, Relief
Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements
Updated December 15, 2021