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Elec. Privacy and Info. Ctr. v. CBP, No. 14-1217, 2016 WL 632179 (D.D.C. Feb. 17, 2016) (Walton, J.)


Elec. Privacy and Info. Ctr. v. CBP, No. 14-1217, 2016 WL 632179 (D.D.C. Feb. 17, 2016) (Walton, J.)

Re: Request for records concerning Analytical Framework for Intelligence system

Disposition: Denying defendant's motion for summary judgment; granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 7(E):  The court holds that "defendant has . . . failed to establish that it has complied with the FOIA's requirements, and consequently, its motion for summary judgment must be denied."  The court finds that defendant's "[d]eclaration provides a categorical description of the material withheld, without providing any exhibits or page references to allow the Court to assess whether the defendant’s claims, in context, are meritorious."  Additionally, the court finds that defendant's "[d]eclaration does not describe the underlying law enforcement techniques and procedures the defendant seeks to protect."  "The declarant’s statements that the withheld materials pertain to the 'use,' 'navigation,' and 'capabilities' of the AFI system, and the 'defendant’s processing of internal travelers,' are minimally descriptive, and thus do not provide the Court with sufficient detail regarding the law enforcement techniques or procedures the defendant seeks to protect."  Therefore, the court holds that "[f]rom the limited information provided in [defendant's] Declaration, the Court is unable to glean any support for its claim that Exemption 7(E) applies to the withheld information."

"The Court notes, without deciding, that [defendant's] Declaration may establish the risk of circumvention of law, assuming that the withheld information about the AFI system would indeed disclose law enforcement techniques or procedures for investigations or prosecutions."  The court explains that defendant's "[d]eclaration states that the withheld information 'may enable an individual knowledgeable in computer systems to improperly access the [AFI] system, facilitate navigation or movement through the system, allow manipulation or deletion of data[,] and interfere with proceedings,' 'would provide a detailed roadmap to individuals looking to manipulate [the AFI system] or to evade detection by law enforcement,' and 'would reveal [the] targeting and inspection techniques used in the processing of international travelers,' which 'would enable potential violators to design strategies to circumvent the law enforcement procedures developed by [the defendant].'"  "If the defendant can establish, by a sufficiently detailed Vaughn index, declaration, or affidavit, that the withheld materials are indeed techniques, procedures, or guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, . . .the defendant may yet prevail on a renewed motion for summary judgment."

Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 7(E)
Updated January 24, 2022