Brick v. DOJ, No. 15-1246, 2019 WL 690679 (D.D.C. Feb. 19, 2019) (Jackson, J.)

Date: 
Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Brick v. DOJ, No. 15-1246, 2019 WL 690679 (D.D.C. Feb. 19, 2019) (Jackson, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning travel to Soviet Union by former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who had also served as United Nations delegate

Disposition:  Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment; denying plaintiff's motion for summary judgment

  • Litigation Considerations, Vaughn Index/Declaration:  "[The] Court agrees with the agency that this case presents a circumstance in which there is a risk of revelation of information that 'compromise[s] legitimate secrecy interests[,]' . . . such that resort to an in camera declaration is necessary."  "And it likewise agrees that the government’s public declaration provides as fulsome of a statement as is possible without revealing the very information that the government seeks to protect."  "[T]he Court rejects [plaintiff's] vigorous contention that the FBI could have done more to explain itself on the public record – i.e., that its public declaration could have provided some information 'describing the intelligence sources and methods or law enforcement techniques the records here would supposedly reveal,' or some statement 'substantiating that the records relate to foreign intelligence or were compiled for law enforcement,' or some explanation of 'how their disclosure would lead to circumvention of the law' – 'without disclosing the information the government claims is protected.'"  " [The] Court is not at liberty to confirm or refute [plaintiff's] assumptions and assertions about what the agency is able to reveal, because the instant Opinion cannot specifically reference the information set forth in the agency's declaration, which is classified."  "But the Court will say that it has given full consideration to [plaintiff's] contentions about the government's ability to provide more details regarding the general nature of the methods and techniques at issue and the underlying law enforcement purposes, as well as [plaintiff's] deductions about the nature of the redacted information, and the Court finds based on its in camera review of the classified declaration and the unredacted records that the government's concerns about potentially harmful disclosure are justified."
     
  • Exemption 3:  The court relates that, "[h]ere, the FBI relied upon Section 102A(i)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947, which requires the Director of National Intelligence to 'protect from unauthorized disclosure intelligence sources and methods.'"  "[The] Court readily finds that the withheld material pertains to 'intelligence sources and methods' that the FBI must protect from disclosure."  "This finding is based upon the Court's review of [defendant's] public and in camera declarations, as well as the documents themselves, for the reasons explained in the declarations."  "Moreover, in his ex parte declaration, [defendant] has provided a logical explanation of how certain intelligence sources and methods would be revealed if additional information in the 12 pages at issue is released."
     
  • Exemption 7(E):  The court holds that defendant properly asserted Exemption 7(E).  The court finds that, "[h]ere, Hardy's classified declaration, in conjunction [with] the unredacted records themselves, establishes that the records at issue were 'compiled for law enforcement purposes' as the D.C. Circuit has interpreted that phrase."  "In particular, the information at issue was compiled as part of an FBI national security investigation."  "Furthermore, it is apparent from these same documents that releasing any additional information would in fact disclose law enforcement techniques and procedures."  "Based on its consideration of all of the materials submitted for in camera review, this Court further finds that the FBI has established a logical connection between release of the redacted information and risk of circumvention of the law."
     
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  "[The] Court finds that the government has satisfied its obligation 'of demonstrating that no reasonably segregable material exists' beyond what it has already released."  "Stated simply, the Court's in camera review of the unredacted records reveals that the redactions at issue here are indeed narrowly tailored, and the Court agrees with the government that it is not possible for any additional information to be released from the records at issue without disclosing the very information that the government seeks to protect."
Topic: 
Declarations
District Court
Litigation Considerations
Vaughn Index
Updated March 22, 2019