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Lynn v. NARA, No. 18-587, 2019 WL 481290 (D.D.C. Feb. 7, 2019) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.)


Lynn v. NARA, No. 18-587, 2019 WL 481290 (D.D.C. Feb. 7, 2019) (Kollar-Kotelly, J.)

Re:  Request for records concerning so-called Grombach Organization, secret American intelligence operation which functioned between 1942 and 1955

Disposition:  Granting defendant's motion for summary judgment

  • Exemption 1:  The court finds that "[t]he disclosure of this information 'would likely impair the CIA’s ability to continue to collect intelligence and conduct operations.'"  "Disclosure could also allow foreign adversaries to learn how the CIA operates and 'take measures to hide their activities from the CIA.'"  "Accordingly, these records concerning intelligence sources and methods are of a nature to qualify for protection under FOIA Exemption 1 through Executive Order 13,526."  The court also finds that "[d]espite the 50-year declassification requirement, the CIA has determined that these records should remain classified based on two exceptions to the 50-year declassification requirement, both relating to national security."  "First, documents are exempted from the 50-year declassification requirement if the records would 'clearly and demonstrably' reveal the identify of a confidential human source or intelligence source."
  • Exemption 3:  The court finds that "the documents withheld from release also qualify for withholding under Exemption 3."  The court explains that "[p]laintiff's requested documents were withheld pursuant to the National Security Act which provides that the Director of National Intelligence 'shall protect intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure.'"  The court finds that "disclosure of the information in Plaintiff's requested documents 'would reveal specific sources and methods of intelligence collection . . . [such as] specific sources of foreign intelligence and/or certain intelligence techniques that are still in use by the Agency.'"
  • Litigation Considerations, "Reasonably Segregable" Requirements:  "The Court must make a separate finding as to whether any portion of the ten documents withheld in their entirety could have been segregated and released."  "[T]he Court is satisfied that no reasonably segregable non-exempt information has been withheld."  The court explains that "the CIA conducted a 'document-by-document and line-byline review and determined that no reasonably segregable non-exempt information [ ] could be released . . . without jeopardizing classified and statutorily-protected material.'"  Second, "[t]he CIA has exempted specific information from the 50-year declassification requirement through its 2012 Declassification Guide which was approved by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Plan as required."
Court Decision Topic(s)
District Court opinions
Exemption 1
Exemption 3
Litigation Considerations, “Reasonably Segregable” Requirements
Updated December 13, 2021