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Long v. CIA, No. 15-1734, 2019 WL 4277362 (D.D.C. Sept. 10, 2019) (Chutkan, J.)


Long v. CIA, No. 15-1734, 2019 WL 4277362 (D.D.C. Sept. 10, 2019) (Chutkan, J.)

Re:  Requests for records concerning defendant's FOIA database

Disposition:  Granting in part and denying in part defendant's motion for summary judgment; granting in part and denying in part plaintiff's motion for summary judgment; granting defendant's uncontested second motion for partial summary judgment

  • Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records:  "[T]he court is unconvinced by the CIA's argument that writing new computer code to locate responsive records in its database or compiling the resulting records constitute the creation of a new record."  The court explains that "although Plaintiffs phrased their Processing Data Requests as seeking 'a case-by-case listing,' the information they seek is neither a listing nor an index of the database contents."  "Instead, they seek certain data fields that the CIA concedes exist within the database."  "Thus, compiling these records does not constitute the creation of a new record."

    Separately, regarding a different request, "[t]he court is unable to determine based on the record before it whether the search for responsive records would be unduly burdensome."  "Even taking as true the CIA's assertion that [the requested] user-generated reports are not tracked, it is not clear from the Supplemental . . . Declaration whether such user-generated reports are stored anywhere in the CIA's systems."  "The declaration also does not explain whether user-generated reports are the only type of reports generated by its FOIA database management system."  "To the extent that some responsive records do exist, the CIA is obligated to perform a reasonable search to locate and produce them."
  • Procedural Requirements, Proper FOIA Requests:  "The court agrees with the CIA's contention that ["items [that] seek information about the software the CIA uses for its FOIA database management, the number of FOIA requests the CIA receives for which information is stored in a database, any database used to handle administrative appeals, and 'the nature and scope of activities' or which the database management system is used"] seek answers to questions and therefore the CIA is under no obligation to respond."
  • Litigation Considerations:  "Because Plaintiffs do not dispute any material facts and do not contest the motion, the court will grant the CIA's Second Motion for Partial Summary Judgment."  The court relates that this concerned "Exemptions 1 (classified information), 3 (information protected from disclosure by other statutes), 4 (confidential commercial information), 5 (information protected by the deliberative process privilege), and 6 (information the release of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy) as to the withheld records."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Litigation Considerations, Supplemental to Main Categories
Procedural Requirements, Proper FOIA Requests
Procedural Requirements, Searching for Responsive Records
Updated December 17, 2021