Am. Civil Liberties Union v. DOJ, No. 15-5217, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 7308 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 21, 2016) (per curiam)

Date: 
Thursday, April 21, 2016

Am. Civil Liberties Union v. DOJ, No. 15-5217, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 7308 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 21, 2016) (per curiam)

Re: Request for records concerning government's use of drones

Disposition: Affirming district court's grant of appellee's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 1:  The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit holds that "the agency has satisfied its burden to show that the records are properly classified under Executive Order 13,526, and that they are, therefore, properly withheld under FOIA Exemption 1."  "The classified affidavit amply demonstrates that the information withheld 'pertains to' 'intelligence activities . . . [,] sources or methods' and/or 'foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States,' . . . and that its disclosure could reasonably be expected to damage national security."  "The agency's explanations as to why the records are classified are both 'logical' and 'plausible,' and uncontroverted by evidence in the record."  "The CIA's affidavit also adequately demonstrates that there are no 'reasonably segregable portion[s]' of the documents that could be disclosed."
     
  • Waiver:  The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit holds that "[appellant] has failed to point to any officially acknowledged information that appears to duplicate or match that being withheld."  Additionally, the court "decline[s] [appellant's] post-oral argument invitation to remand the case for further consideration in light of the government's recent announcement that 'in the coming weeks, the Administration will publicly release an assessment of combatant and non-combatant casualties resulting from strikes taken outside areas of active hostilities since 2009,' and that '[g]oing forward, these figures will be provided annually.'"  The court finds that, "[a]s an initial matter, [it] cannot know at this juncture whether the government will actually disclose this information or how that information will be presented."  "It is, therefore, not yet possible to determine whether the information the government plans to release will duplicate that being withheld[.]"  "More importantly, however, the question in FOIA cases is typically whether an agency improperly withheld documents at the time that it processed a FOIA request."
     
  • Litigation Considerations, In Camera Inspection:  The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit holds that "[t]he district court was . . . well within its discretion to decline to review the documents in camera" and "[the court] find[s] it unnecessary to review the documents to determine whether the information has been properly withheld."
Topic: 
Court of Appeals
Exemption 1
In Camera Review
Litigation Considerations
Waiver
Updated June 3, 2016