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Adams v. CIA, No. 20-00377, 2023 WL 1778191 (D.D.C. Feb. 6, 2023) (McFadden, J.)


Adams v. CIA, No. 20-00377, 2023 WL 1778191 (D.D.C. Feb. 6, 2023) (McFadden, J.)

Re:  Request for certain records concerning plaintiff

Disposition:  Granting defendant’s renewed motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 1:  “The Court finds the CIA’s renewed Glomar response sufficient.”  “The CIA contends that noting the existence or nonexistence of records in [the categories of information remaining at issue, all of which concern plaintiff] ‘would reveal sensitive information about the CIA’s intelligence interests, personnel, capabilities, authorities, and resources’ – all of which Executive Order 13,526 protects from disclosure.”
  • Exemption 3:  “Although the Court could rule for the CIA based on its Exemption 1 explanation alone, it also holds that the agency satisfies Exemption 3.”  “The CIA’s declarant ‘identifies the statute[s] that exclude[ ] the information and establishes that the information falls within the statute[s’] scope.’”  “The CIA’s declarant explains that divulging the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to [the categories of information remaining at issue] would reveal a classified relationship harmful to intelligence sources and methods that could jeopardize national security.”  “Under Exemption 3, that is enough.”  “The CIA “need not make a specific showing of potential harm to national security in order to justify withholding information . . . because Congress has already, in enacting the statute[s], decided that disclosure of [NSA and CIA] activities is potentially harmful.’”
  • Waiver and Discretionary Disclosure, Waiver:  In arguing waiver, the court relates that “[plaintiff] merely contends that ‘[m]any of the documents in the Vaughn Index . . . were previously released to Congress leaders and the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.’”  The court finds that “[s]uch a conclusory statement is not enough to overcome the CIA’s Glomar response.”
  • Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection:  The court relates that “[plaintiff] argues in passing that in camera review of the withheld documents is warranted.”  “Because the Court finds that the CIA meets its burdens under FOIA through affidavits and [plaintiff] provides no evidence of agency bad faith, ‘in camera review is neither necessary nor appropriate.’”
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 1
Exemption 3
Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection
Waiver and Discretionary Disclosure
Updated March 1, 2023