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JW v DOJ FISA no hearings no transcripts 01050

JW v DOJ FISA no hearings no transcripts 01050

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Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT COLUMBIA
JUDICIAL WATCH,
Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT JUSTICE,
Defendant.
Case No. 18-CV-01050-ABJ
DEFENDANT MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Defendant United States Department Justice DOJ hereby moves for summary
judgment pursuant Fed. Civ. 56(b) and Local Rule 7(h) for the reasons stated the
attached memorandum points and authorities, statement material facts, and supporting
declaration and exhibits.
Dated: August 30, 2018
Respectfully Submitted,
CHAD READLER
Acting Assistant Attorney General
ELIZABETH SHAPIRO
Deputy Director, Federal Programs Branch
/s/Amy Powell
AMY POWELL
Federal Programs Branch
Civil Division, Department Justice
310 New Bern Avenue, Suite 800
Federal Building
Raleigh, 27601-1461
Phone: 919-856-4013
Email: amy.powell@usdoj.gov
Attorneys for Defendant
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT COLUMBIA
JUDICIAL WATCH,
Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT JUSTICE,
Defendant.
Case No. 18-CV-01050-ABJ
STATEMENT MATERIAL FACTS SUPPORT
DEFENDANT MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT required Local Civil Rule 7(h)(1), and support the Motion for Summary
Judgment, Defendant hereby makes the following statement material facts which there genuine issue.
This matter arises from FOIA request submitted the Department Justice for
transcripts hearings before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court regarding applications
for renewals Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FISA warrants relating Carter
dated February 16, 2018, and was received DOJ February 26, 2018. Id. was later
referred the National Security Division. Id. letter dated June 18, 2018, NSD made final determination. The letter
described NSD operational files and responded that with respect your request relating
Michael Flynn, can neither confirm nor deny the existence records these files responsive your request. Findlay Decl. Ex. NSD further determined that based
declassification decisions are able respond your request relating Carter Page, and
confirmed that NSD found records responsive the request. Id.
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page February 2018, Congress released memorandum, hereinafter referred
the Nunes Memorandum. The President declassified the Congressional memorandum, which
included references the existence FISA material related Carter Page. letter from White
House counsel clarified that was declassified light the significant public interest the
matter and noted that the memorandum reflects the judgments its congressional authors.
February 24, 2018, HPSCI Democratic Members released redacted memorandum authored Adam Schiff, ranking member HPSCI, correct the record following release the
Nunes Memorandum (hereafter the Schiff Memorandum light the declassification
the Nunes Memorandum and subsequent publication the Schiff Memorandum, the Department
officially acknowledged the existence FISA applications related Carter Page after his
separation from the Trump campaign. Findlay Decl. 7-8.
Other than the declassification portions these Carter Page materials,
Department has not official confirmed denied the existence any other FISA material related the Trump campaign the investigation Russian election interference. Findlay Decl.
19.
With respect the portion the request related Carter Page, NSD searched
the locations likely contain responsive records and reasonably determined that there are
responsive records. Findlay Decl. 13-15.
Specifically, FOIA staff consulted with knowledgeable subject matter experts
the Office Intelligence. Those experts confirmed that, typical proceedings before the
FISC, hearings were held with respect the acknowledged Carter Page FISA applications,
and thus responsive transcripts exist. Id. 14.
Patrick Findlay original classification authority. Id.
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
With respect the portion the request related Michael Flynn, Mr. Findlay
determined that the existence nonexistence responsive records currently and properly
classified fact and therefore properly withheld under Exemption One. Findlay Decl. 16-33.
Mr. Findlay determined that the information withheld pursuant Exemption
under control the United States Government, and contains information pertaining
intelligence activities, sources methods. See Executive Order 13526 1.4(c); Findlay Decl.
26-28.
10.
Mr. Findlay determined that disclosure the existence non-existence
responsive records with respect this portion the request would cause harm national
security, and has articulated the harm that could expected occur. Findlay Decl. 28-32.
11. authorized Executive Branch official has disclosed the information withheld
this matter. Id. 11,
Dated: August 30, 2018
Respectfully Submitted,
CHAD READLER
Acting Assistant Attorney General
ELIZABETH SHAPIRO
Deputy Director, Federal Programs Branch
/s/Amy Powell
AMY POWELL
Federal Programs Branch
Civil Division, Department Justice
310 New Bern Avenue, Suite 800
Federal Building
Raleigh, 27601-1461
Phone: 919-856-4013
Email: amy.powell@usdoj.gov
Attorneys for Defendant
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT COLUMBIA
JUDICIAL WATCH,
Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT JUSTICE,
Defendant.
Case No. 18-CV-01050-ABJ
MEMORANDUM POINTS AND AUTHORITIES SUPPORT DEFENDANT MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
CHAD READLER
Acting Assistant Attorney General
ELIZABETH SHAPIRO
Deputy Director, Federal Programs Branch
AMY POWELL
Federal Programs Branch
Civil Division, Department Justice
310 New Bern Avenue, Suite 800
Federal Building
Raleigh, 27601-1461
Phone: 919-856-4013
Email: amy.powell@usdoj.gov
Attorneys for Defendant
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
Table Contents
INTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................................
BACKGROUND ............................................................................................................................
Administrative Background. ................................................................................................
Russia Investigation and FISA Applications Related Carter Page ..................................
ARGUMENT ..................................................................................................................................
II.
Statutory Standards. .............................................................................................................
The Freedom Information Act ...............................................................................
Special Considerations National Security Cases ...................................................
The Glomar Response. ...............................................................................................
NSD Conducted Reasonable Search and Properly Made Partial No-Records Response
With Respect FISC Transcripts Related Carter Page. ................................................
III. NSD Properly Refused Confirm Deny the Existence Other Responsive Records
Related Michael Flynn Pursuant Exemption One. ...................................................
IV. The Government Has Not Waived Exemption One Official Acknowledgment. .........
CONCLUSION .............................................................................................................................
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
Table Authorities
Cases
ACLU CIA,
710 F.3d 422 (D.C. Cir. 2013)...................................................................................................
ACLU Dep Def.,
628 F.3d 612 (D.C. Cir. 2011)...............................................................................................
Afshar Dep State,
702 F.2d 1125 (D.C. Cir. 1983).............................................................................................
Agility Pub. Warehousing Co. K.S.C. NSA,
113 Supp. 313 (D.D.C. 2015)..................................................................................... 13,
Ancient Coin Collectors Guild Dep State,
641 F.3d 504 (D.C. Cir. 2011).....................................................................................................
Ass Retired R.R. Workers, Inc. U.S. R.R. Ret. Bd.,
830 F.2d 331 (D.C. Cir. 1987).....................................................................................................
Baker Hostetler LLP Dep Commerce,
473 F.3d 312 (D.C. Cir. 2006).....................................................................................................
Carter NSA,
2014 2178708 (D.C. Cir. Apr. 23, 2014) ...........................................................................
Chambers Dep Interior,
568 F.3d 998 (D.C. Cir. 2009).....................................................................................................
*CIA Sims,
471 U.S. 159 (1985) ....................................................................................................................
Clapper Amnesty Intl USA,
568 U.S. 398 (2013) ..................................................................................................................
*Clemente FBI,
867 F.3d 111 (D.C. Cir. 2017).....................................................................................................
Competitive Enter. Inst. NSA, Supp. (D.D.C. 2015)................................................................................... 13, 14,
Ctr. for Nat Sec. Studies Dep Justice,
331 F.3d 918 (D.C. Cir. 2003).................................................................................................
DiBacco U.S. Army,
795 F.3d 178 (D.C. Cir. 2015).............................................................................................
iii
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
Fitzgibbon CIA,
911 F.2d 755 (D.C. Cir. 1990)......................................................................................... 14,
Frugone CIA,
169 F.3d 772 (D.C. Cir. 1999).................................................................................................
Gardels CIA,
689 F.2d 1100 (D.C. Cir. 1982)...................................................................................................
Gov Accountability Project Food Drug Admin.,
206 Supp. 420 (D.D.C. 2016).............................................................................................
Iturralde Comptroller Currency,
315 F.3d 311 (D.C. Cir. 2003).....................................................................................................
James Madison Project Dep Justice,
208 Supp. 265 (D.D.C. 2016).............................................................................................
John Doe Agency John Doe Corp.,
493 U.S. 146 (1989) ................................................................................................................
Judicial Watch, Inc. Dept the Navy, Supp. 131 (D.D.C. 2014)...............................................................................................
*Judicial Watch, Inc. DOD,
715 F.3d 937 (D.C. Cir. 2013)...................................................................................................
King Dep Justice,
830 F.2d 210 (D.C. Cir. 1987).................................................................................................
Kissinger Reporters Comm. for Freedom the Press,
445 U.S. 136 (1980) ....................................................................................................................
Larson Dep State,
565 F.3d 857 (D.C. Cir. 2009)...........................................................................................
*Marrera DOJ,
622 Supp. (D.D.C. 1985)..................................................................................................
McCready Nicholson,
465 F.3d (D.C. Cir. 2006).........................................................................................................
Meeropol Meese,
790 F.2d 942 (D.C. Cir. 1986).....................................................................................................
Military Audit Project Casey,
656 F.2d 724 (D.C. Cir. 1981)...............................................................................................
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
Minier CIA, F.3d 796 (9th Cir. 1996) .........................................................................................................
Moore CIA,
666 F.3d 1330 (D.C. Cir. 2011).................................................................................................
Moore Obama,
2009 2762827 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 24, 2009) ...........................................................................
*Oglesby Dep the Army,
920 F.2d (D.C. Cir. 1990).................................................................................................
Parker EOUSA,
852 Supp. (D.D.C. 2012).................................................................................................
Perry Block,
684 F.2d 121 (D.C. Cir. 1982).....................................................................................................
Phillippi CIA,
546 F.2d 1009 (D.C. Cir. 1976)...............................................................................................
Pub. Citizen Dep State, F.3d 198 (D.C. Cir. 1993).....................................................................................................
Ray Turner,
587 F.2d 1187 (D.C. Cir. 1978)...................................................................................................
SafeCard Servs., Inc. SEC,
926 F.2d 1197 (D.C. Cir. 1991)...............................................................................................
Schwarz Dep Treasury,
131 Supp. 142 (D.D.C. 2000)...........................................................................................
Unrow Human Rights Litig. Clinic Dep State,
134 Supp. 263 (D.D.C. 2015).............................................................................................
U.S. Flynn,
Case No. 1:17-cr-00232-RC (D.D.C.)..........................................................................................3
Weisberg DOJ,
745 F.2d 1476 (D.C. Cir. 1984)...................................................................................................
Wheeler CIA,
271 Supp. 132 (D.D.C. 2003).............................................................................................
Wilbur CIA,
355 F.3d 675 (D.C. Cir. 2004).....................................................................................................
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
Wilner NSA,
592 F.3d (2d Cir. 2009) ....................................................................................................
*Wolf CIA,
473 F.3d 370 (D.C. Cir. 2007)......................................................................................... 14,
Statutes U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(B) .................................................................................................................. U.S.C. 552(b) ............................................................................................................................ U.S.C. 552(b)(1) ...................................................................................................................
Regulations C.F.R. 16.3(a)(1) ...................................................................................................................... C.F.R. 16.3(a)(2) ...................................................................................................................... Fed. Reg. 707 ...........................................................................................................................
Other Authorities
DOJ FOIA Reference Guide, Pt. III: Where Make FOIA Request (Jan. 30, 2017),
https://www.justice.gov/oip/department-justice-freedom-information-act-referenceguide#where..................................................................................................................................2
Executive Order No. 13,526, Fed. Reg. 707 (Dec. 29, 2009) ........................................................................................ 10,
H.R. Rep. No. 89-1497 (1966).........................................................................................................4
http://www.fisc.uscourts.gov/about-foreign-intelligence-surveillance-court................................10
Office the Dep. Att General, Order No. 3915-2017, Appointment Special Counsel
Investigate Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election and Related Matters (May
17, 2017), https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/967231/download..............................3
Transcript the House Permanent Select Committee Intelligence Hearing Russian
Interference the 2016 U.S. Election, March 20, 2017,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/03/20/full-transcript-fbidirector-james-comey-testifies-on-russian-interference-in-2016election/?utm_term=.b9f19a0cf9cf..............................................................................................3
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
INTRODUCTION
Using the Freedom Information Act, Plaintiff seeks information about certain types
surveillance activity allegedly related ongoing investigation. More specifically, they seek
transcripts hearings before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court FISC related
alleged surveillance two specific individuals: Carter Page Michael Flynn. The Department Justice DOJ National Security Division NSD confirmed that there are records
related Carter Page subject the Freedom Information Act FOIA Otherwise, NSD
properly refused confirm deny the existence responsive records, and authorized
Executive Branch official has disclosed the specific information issue namely, the existence non-existence FISC transcripts (or applications) related Michael Flynn.
The partial records response proper. The Government supporting declarations
establish that the FISC typically considers FISA warrant applications based written
submissions and may decide matters without holding hearing. light recent public
disclosures about Carter Page, NSD confirms that has conducted reasonable search and that such hearings were held with respect the acknowledged FISA applications. Accordingly, responsive hearing transcripts exist, and the partial records response was proper.
With respect Michael Flynn, the Glomar response, which DOJ does not confirm
deny the existence responsive transcripts, proper. Providing substantive response
whether not responsive hearing transcripts exist would reveal classified information protected FOIA Exemption including whether not the Government sought FISA warrant for
Michael Flynn. NSD declaration establishes that this information currently and properly
classified, and its disclosure would cause harm national security. The Court should defer
Defendant determination this regard and grant the Government summary judgment.
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
BACKGROUND
Administrative Background.
This matter arises from FOIA request submitted the Department Justice for
transcripts hearings before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court regarding applications
for renewals Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FISA warrants relating Carter
The request dated February 16, 2018, and was received DOJ February 26, 2018. Id.
The Mail Referral Unit referred NSD. Findlay Decl. letter dated June 18, 2018, NSD described its operational files and responded that
with respect your request relating Michael Flynn, can neither confirm nor deny the
existence records these files responsive your request. Findlay Decl. Ex. NSD
further determined that based declassification decisions are able respond your
request relating Carter Page, and confirmed that NSD found records responsive the
request. Id. May 2018, before NSD had made final determination the FOIA request,
Plaintiff filed Complaint, seeking production documents, fees and costs. Compl., Dkt. No.
Rather than being directed any particular component, the request was sent the Department
Mail Referral Unit. See Findlay Decl. see generally C.F.R. 16.3(a)(1), (2); DOJ FOIA
Reference Guide, Pt. III: Where Make FOIA Request (Jan. 30, 2017), available
https://www.justice.gov/oip/department-justice-freedom-information-act-reference-guide#where
(permitting submission requests the Mail Referral Unit [i]f you believe that DOJ maintains
the records you are seeking, but you are uncertain about which component has the records
The regulations advise that [a] request will receive the quickest possible response
addressed the FOIA office the component that maintains the records sought. C.F.R.
16.3(a)(1).
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
Russia Investigation and FISA Applications Related Carter Page
Plaintiff FOIA request arises factual context which there ongoing,
acknowledged official investigation related the Trump campaign. Specifically, the FBI has
acknowledged counterintelligence investigation the Russian government efforts
interfere the 2016 presidential election[, including] the nature any links between individuals
associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any
coordination between the campaign and Russia efforts [and] assessment whether any
crimes were committed. See Transcript the House Permanent Select Committee
Intelligence Hearing Russian Interference the 2016 U.S. Election, March 20, 2017,
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/03/20/full-transcript-fbi-directorjames-comey-testifies-on-russian-interference-in-2016-election/?utm_term=.b9f19a0cf9cf (last
accessed 8/27/2018). That investigation now under the direction Special Counsel Robert
Mueller. See Office the Dep. Att General, Order No. 3915-2017, Appointment Special
Counsel Investigate Russian Interference with the 2016 Presidential Election and Related
Matters (May 17, 2017), https://www.justice.gov/opa/press-release/file/967231/download.
Multiple guilty pleas have resulted from that investigation, including that Michael Flynn. See
generally U.S. Flynn, Case No. 1:17-cr-00232-RC (D.D.C.). February 2018, Congress released memorandum, hereinafter referred the
Nunes Memorandum. The President declassified the Congressional memorandum, which
included references the existence FISA applications and orders related Carter Page.
Findlay Decl. letter from White House counsel clarified that was declassified light the significant public interest the matter and noted that the memorandum reflects the
judgments its congressional authors. February 24, 2018, HPSCI Democratic Members
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
released redacted memorandum authored Adam Schiff, ranking member HPSCI,
correct the record following release the Nunes Memorandum (hereafter the Schiff
Memorandum Id. light the declassification the Nunes Memorandum and subsequent
publication the Schiff Memorandum, the Department officially acknowledged the existence
FISA applications and orders related Carter Page after his separation from the Trump
campaign. Id. 8-9. Other than the declassification portions these Carter Page materials,
DOJ has not official confirmed denied the existence any other FISA applications and orders
related other individuals connection with the investigation Russian election interference.
ARGUMENT
Statutory Standards.
The Freedom Information Act
The basic purpose FOIA reflects general philosophy full agency disclosure
unless information exempted under clearly delineated statutory language. John Doe Agency
John Doe Corp., 493 U.S. 146, 152 (1989) (citation omitted). Congress recognized, however,
that public disclosure not always the public interest CIA Sims, 471 U.S. 159, 166 (1985). Accordingly, passing FOIA, Congress sought reach workable balance
between the right the public know and the need the Government keep information
confidence the extent necessary without permitting indiscriminate secrecy. John Doe
Agency, 493 U.S. 152 (quoting H.R. Rep. No. 89-1497, (1966), reprinted 1966
U.S.C.C.A.N. 2418, 2423). the D.C. Circuit has recognized, FOIA represents balance
struck Congress between the public right know and the [G]overnment legitimate
Those applications and orders have since been processed and released the Department
response several pending FOIA requests.
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
interest keeping certain information confidential. Ctr. for Nat Sec. Studies Dep
Justice, 331 F.3d 918, 925 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (citing John Doe Agency, 493 U.S. 152).
FOIA mandates disclosure government records unless the requested information falls
within one nine enumerated exemptions. See U.S.C. 552(b). district court only has
jurisdiction compel agency disclose improperly withheld agency records, i.e. records
that not fall within exemption. Minier CIA, F.3d 796, 803 (9th Cir. 1996); see also U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(B) (providing the district court with jurisdiction only enjoin the agency
from withholding agency records and order the production any agency records improperly
withheld from the complainant Kissinger Reporters Comm. for Freedom the Press, 445
U.S. 136, 150 (1980) Under U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(B)[,] federal jurisdiction dependent upon
showing that agency has (1) improperly (2) withheld (3) agency records. While
narrowly construed, FOIA statutory exemptions are intended have meaningful reach and
application. John Doe Agency, 493 U.S. 152; accord DiBacco v.U.S. Army, 795 F.3d 178,
183 (D.C. Cir. 2015).
The courts resolve most FOIA actions summary judgment. See Judicial Watch, Inc.
Dept the Navy, Supp. 131, 136 (D.D.C. 2014). The Government bears the burden
proving that the withheld information falls within the exemptions invokes. See U.S.C.
552(a)(4)(B); King Dep Justice, 830 F.2d 210, 217 (D.C. Cir. 1987). court may grant
summary judgment the Government based entirely agency declarations, provided they
articulate the justifications for nondisclosure with reasonably specific detail, demonstrate that
the information withheld logically falls within the claimed exemption, and are not controverted either contrary evidence the record nor evidence agency bad faith. Military Audit
Project Casey, 656 F.2d 724, 738 (D.C. Cir. 1981); accord Gov Accountability Project
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
Food Drug Admin., 206 Supp. 420, 430 (D.D.C. 2016). Such declarations are accorded presumption good faith, which cannot rebutted purely speculative claims[.]
SafeCard Servs., Inc. SEC, 926 F.2d 1197, 1200 (D.C. Cir. 1991).
Special Considerations National Security Cases
The issues presented this case directly implicat[e] national security, uniquely
executive purview. Ctr. for Nat Sec. Studies, 331 F.3d 926 27. While courts review
novo agency withholding information pursuant FOIA request, novo review
FOIA cases not everywhere alike Ass Retired R.R. Workers, Inc. U.S. R.R. Ret.
Bd., 830 F.2d 331, 336 (D.C. Cir. 1987). Indeed, the courts have specifically recognized the
propriety deference the executive the context FOIA claims which implicate national
security. Ctr. for Nat Sec. Studies, 331 F.3d 927; see Ray Turner, 587 F.2d 1187, 1194
(D.C. Cir. 1978) [T]he executive ha[s] unique insights into what adverse [e]ffects might occur result public disclosure particular classified record. [A]ccordingly, the
government arguments needs only both plausible and logical justify the invocation FOIA exemption the national security context. Unrow Human Rights Litig. Clinic
Dep State, 134 Supp. 263, 272 (D.D.C. 2015) (quoting ACLU Dep Def., 628
F.3d 612, 624 (D.C. Cir. 2011)).
For these reasons, the courts have consistently deferred executive affidavits predicting
harm the national security, and have found unwise undertake searching judicial review.
Ctr. for Nat Sec. Studies, 331 F.3d 927; see Larson Dep State, 565 F.3d 857, 865
(D.C. Cir. 2009) (citation omitted) Today reaffirm our deferential posture FOIA cases
regarding the uniquely executive purview national security. accord Unrow Human Rights
Impact Litig. Clinic, 134 Supp. 272. Consequently, reviewing court must afford
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
substantial weight agency declarations the national security context. King, 830 F.2d
217; see Fitzgibbon CIA, 911 F.2d 755, 766 (D.C. Cir. 1990) (holding that the district court
erred perform[ing] its own calculus whether not harm the national security
intelligence sources and methods would result from disclosure Frugone CIA, 169 F.3d
772, 775 (D.C. Cir. 1999) (because courts have little expertise either international diplomacy counterintelligence operations, are position dismiss the CIA facially reasonable
concerns about the harm that disclosure could cause national security). FOIA bars the
courts from prying loose from the government even the smallest bit information that
properly classified would disclose intelligence sources methods. Afshar Dep State,
702 F.2d 1125, 1130 (D.C. Cir. 1983).
The Glomar Response. Glomar response allows the Government refuse confirm deny the existence
records where answer the FOIA inquiry would cause harm cognizable under FOIA
exception. Wolf CIA, 473 F.3d 370, 374 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (quoting Gardels CIA, 689 F.2d
1100, 1103 (D.C. Cir. 1982)); accord Wilner NSA, 592 F.3d 60, (2d Cir. 2009) The
Glomar doctrine well settled proper response FOIA request because the only way which agency may assert that particular FOIA statutory exemption covers the existence non-existence the requested records[.] (quoting Phillippi CIA, 546 F.2d 1009, 1012
(D.C. Cir. 1976)). support Glomar response, the asserting agency must explain why
can neither confirm nor deny the existence responsive records. James Madison Project
Dep Justice, 208 Supp. 265, 283 (D.D.C. 2016) (quoting Parker EOUSA, 852
Supp. (D.D.C. 2012)). The agency can satisfy this obligation providing public
affidavit[s] explaining much detail possible the basis for its claim that can
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
required neither confirm nor deny the existence the requested records. Phillippi, 546
F.2d 1013.
The courts this Circuit have consistently upheld Glomar responses where, here,
confirming denying the existence records would reveal classified information protected
FOIA Exemption See, e.g., Frugone, 169 F.3d 774 (finding that CIA properly refused confirm deny the existence records concerning the plaintiff alleged employment
relationship with CIA pursuant Exemptions and 3); Larson, 565 F.3d 861 (upholding
the National Security Agency use the Glomar response the plaintiffs FOIA requests
regarding past violence Guatemala pursuant Exemptions and 3); Wheeler CIA, 271
Supp. 132, 140 (D.D.C. 2003) (ruling that CIA properly invoked Glomar response
request for records concerning the plaintiff activities journalist Cuba during the 1960s
pursuant Exemption 1).
II.
NSD Conducted Reasonable Search and Properly Made Partial No-Records
Response With Respect FISC Transcripts Related Carter Page. agency entitled summary judgment FOIA case with respect the adequacy its search shows that made good faith effort conduct search for the requested
records, using methods which can reasonably expected produce the information
requested. Clemente FBI, 867 F.3d 111, 117 (D.C. Cir. 2017) (quoting Oglesby Dep
the Army, 920 F.2d 57, (D.C. Cir. 1990)); DiBacco, 795 F.3d 188. [T]he issue
resolved not whether there might exist any other documents possibly responsive the request,
but rather whether the search for those documents was adequate. Weisberg DOJ, 745 F.2d
1476, 1485 (D.C. Cir. 1984) (emphasis original). The search thus gauged not the fruits the search, but the appropriateness the methods used carry out the search. Ancient
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
Coin Collectors Guild Dep State, 641 F.3d 504, 514 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (quoting Iturralde
Comptroller Currency, 315 F.3d 311, 315 (D.C. Cir. 2003)). short, [a] search need not perfect, only adequate, and adequacy measured the
reasonableness the effort light the specific request. DiBacco, 795 F.3d 194-95
(quoting Meeropol Meese, 790 F.2d 942, 956 (D.C. Cir. 1986)). agency can establish the
reasonableness its search reasonably detailed, nonconclusory affidavits describing its
efforts. Baker Hostetler LLP Dep Commerce, 473 F.3d 312, 318 (D.C. Cir. 2006).
Such affidavits are sufficient they set[] forth the search terms and the type search
performed, and aver[] that all files likely contain responsive materials (if such records exist)
were searched. Chambers Dep Interior, 568 F.3d 998, 1003 (D.C. Cir. 2009) (quoting
McCready Nicholson, 465 F.3d (D.C. Cir. 2006)). This standard not demanding. [I]n
the absence countervailing evidence apparent inconsistency proof, affidavits that explain reasonable detail the scope and method the search conducted the agency will suffice Perry Block, 684 F.2d 121, 127 (D.C. Cir. 1982). Agency affidavits are accorded
presumption good faith, which cannot rebutted purely speculative claims about the
existence and discoverability other documents. SafeCard Servs., Inc., 926 F.2d 1200
(citation omitted); see also Wilbur CIA, 355 F.3d 675, 678 (D.C. Cir. 2004) [M]ere
speculation that yet uncovered documents might exist[] does not undermine the determination
that the agency conducted adequate search for the requested records.
The Findlay Declaration demonstrates that NSD has conducted reasonable search for
records responsive Plaintiff FOIA request insofar relates the acknowledged Carter
the office DOJ responsible for representing the Government before the FISC. Findlay Decl.
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
13. Accordingly, NSD FOIA consulted with the Office Intelligence, whose subject matter
experts are familiar with these types records generally and specifically familiar with the
proceedings related Carter Page. Id. 13-14. Those supervisors reviewed their records and
confirmed that, typical proceedings before the FISC, hearings were held with respect the acknowledged Carter Page FISA applications, and thus responsive transcripts exist. Id.
14. The Findlay Declaration thus confirms that NSD searched the only location reasonably
likely contain responsive records and confirmed that none exist. Id. 15. This strategy
identifying the personnel responsible for the requested FISC information, and asking them
search their records method[] which can reasonably expected produce the
information requested. Oglesby, 920 F.2d 68. Therefore, DOJ entitled summary
judgment this issue.
III.
NSD Properly Refused Confirm Deny the Existence Other Responsive
Records Related Michael Flynn Pursuant Exemption One.
FOIA Exemption exempts from disclosure information that specifically authorized
under criteria established Executive Order kept secret the interest national
defense foreign policy and are fact properly classified pursuant such Executive Order. U.S.C. 552(b)(1). Under Executive Order No. 13,526, agency may withhold information
that official with original classification authority has determined classified because its
unauthorized disclosure could reasonably expected cause identifiable describable
damage the national security[.] Exec. Order No. 13,526 1.4, Fed. Reg. 707, 709 (Dec.
29, 2009). The information must also pertain[] one the categories information specified the Executive Order, including intelligence activities (including covert action), intelligence
The FISC Rules Procedure, well explanatory letter Congress, are available the
FISC website. See http://www.fisc.uscourts.gov/about-foreign-intelligence-surveillance-court;
Findlay Decl. 14.
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
sources methods. Exec. Order No. 13,526 1.4(c); see also Judicial Watch, Inc. DOD,
715 F.3d 937, 941 (D.C. Cir. 2013) (citation omitted) [P]ertains not very demanding
verb. discussed above, court accord[s] substantial weight agency affidavit
concerning the details the classified status the disputed records because the Executive
departments responsible for national defense and foreign policy matters have unique insights into
what adverse [e]ffects might occur result particular classified record. Larson, 565 F.3d 864 (citation omitted).
Defendant invoked the Glomar response order safeguard currently and properly
classified information involving categories information set forth Section 1.4 Executive
Order 13,526. See Findlay Decl. 16-33. First, the existence non-existence responsive
records implicates intelligence activities (including covert action), intelligence sources
methods, cryptology. Exec. Order 13,526 1.4(c). The supporting declaration establishes
that disclosing whether not the defendant agencies possessed responsive records related
Michael Flynn would disclose intelligence activities, sources, and methods, including the
existence non-existence particular type intelligence operations regarding particular
target. Findlay Decl. 28-29. Surveillance authorized the FISC under any its authorities itself intelligence method, and thus its use any particular matter thus pertains
intelligence source method. Cf. Clapper Amnesty Intl USA, 568 U.S. 398, 401-07 (2013)
(describing FISA authorities).
The Findlay Declaration further demonstrates that confirming whether not Defendants
possessed responsive records reasonably could expected cause damage the national
security the United States disclosing the existence non-existence intelligence sources
and methods. See Findlay Decl. 28-32. explained the Findlay Declaration, FISC
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
transcripts related Michael Flynn did exist, disclosure that information would suggest that may have been the target particular type intelligence operation, minimum, that
the U.S. Government believed had sufficient information target him based then-existing
intelligence that met the standards for FISA warrant. Id. 28. FISC transcripts related
Michael Flynn did not exist, disclosure that information could suggest that the U.S.
Government lacked sufficient information interest target him using that particular method.
Id.
Findlay further explains that acknowledging the existence non-existence records
responsive this portion Plaintiff request would tantamount confirming whether
not the Department was pursuing particular intelligence operations against particular target
and reveal otherwise non-public information regarding the nature and scope the
Department supervision intelligence interests, priorities, activities, and methods
information that desired hostile actors who seek thwart the Department supervision
intelligence-gathering missions. Findlay Decl. 31. This valuable information adversaries
seeking thwart U.S. intelligence collection. Once intelligence activity the fact its
use non-use certain situation discovered, its continued successful use seriously
jeopardized. Id. 29. Moreover, U.S. adversaries review publicly available information
deduce intelligence methods, catalogue information, and take countermeasures; accordingly the
U.S. Government must take prevent even indirect references sensitive sources and methods preserve their utility and effectiveness. See id. 30-31.
NSD reasonably concluded that confirm deny the existence responsive records
(to the portion plaintiff FOIA request seeking transcripts hearings before the FISC
pertaining Michael Flynn) could risk compromising intelligence activities, methods,
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
sources, and thus would pose least serious risk the national security. Findlay Decl. 32. discussed supra, this declaration entitled substantial weight.
The Government routinely makes Glomar responses similar requests for information
about particular surveillance subjects, and courts routinely uphold such responses. See, e.g.,
Marrera DOJ, 622 Supp. 51, (D.D.C. 1985) [T]his Court finds that OIPR refusal confirm deny the existence FISA records pertaining this particular plaintiff
justified the interests national security part overall policy [the Executive Order]
with respect all FISA FOIA requests. Schwarz Dep Treasury, 131 Supp. 142,
149 (D.D.C. 2000) The Office properly refused confirm deny that had any responsive
records maintained under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act 1978 (FISA) and nonFISA files relating various intelligence techniques. aff No. 00-5453, 2001 674636
(D.C. Cir. May 10, 2001); Competitive Enter. Inst. NSA, Supp. 45, (D.D.C. 2015)
(upholding NSA Glomar response request for metadata records with respect two particular
individuals); Agility Pub. Warehousing Co. K.S.C. NSA, 113 Supp. 313, 329 (D.D.C.
2015) (upholding NSA Glomar response request for particular surveillance records); see
also Carter NSA, No. 1:12-CV-00968-CKK, 2014 2178708, (D.C. Cir. Apr. 23,
2014) (upholding Glomar response request for records related alleged NSA surveillance
plaintiff); Moore Obama, No. 09-5072, 2009 2762827, (D.C. Cir. Aug. 24, 2009)
(same); Wilner, 592 F.3d Glomar responses are available, when appropriate, agencies
when responding FOIA requests for information obtained under publicly acknowledged
intelligence program, such the [Terrorist Surveillance Program], least when the existence
such information has not already been publicly disclosed.
Accordingly, the partial Glomar response was proper pursuant Exemption One.
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
IV.
The Government Has Not Waived Exemption One Official Acknowledgment. general matter, under FOIA, when agency has officially acknowledged
otherwise exempt information through prior disclosure, the agency has waived its right claim exemption with respect that information. ACLU CIA, 710 F.3d 422, 426 (D.C. Cir.
2013). This official acknowledgement principle applies the Glomar context, requester
can overcome Glomar response showing that the agency has already disclosed the fact
the existence (or non-existence) responsive records, since that the purportedly exempt
information that Glomar response designed protect. Id. 427. But the plaintiff must
bear the initial burden pointing specific information the public domain that appears
duplicate that being withheld. Id. (quoting Wolf, 473 F.3d 378).
The D.C. Circuit has narrowly construed the official acknowledgment doctrine,
however, and bring such challenge plaintiff must satisfy three stringent criteria, none
which are satisfied here. First, the information requested must specific the information
previously released. Wolf, 473 F.3d 378 (quoting Fitzgibbon, 911 F.2d 765). Prior
disclosure similar information does not suffice; instead, the specific information sought the
plaintiff must already the public domain official disclosure. This insistence
exactitude [by the D.C. Circuit] recognizes the Government vital interest information
relating national security and foreign affairs. Id. (quoting Pub. Citizen Dep State,
F.3d 198, 203 (D.C. Cir. 1993)); Competitive Enter. Inst., Supp. Plaintiffs this
case must therefore point specific information the public domain establishing that the NSA
has [the claimed information.] The information already released must also the same
level generality the information sought broadly crafted disclosures, even the same
general topic, not waive the Glomar response. See, e.g., Afshar, 702 F.2d 1133 (previous
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
disclosure that plaintiff had created problem U.S.-Iranian relations was too general
justify releasing documents detailing the nature that problem).
Second, the information requested must match the information previously disclosed.
Wolf, 473 F.3d 378 (quoting Fitzgibbon, 911 F.2d 765). there are substantive
differences between the two, official-acknowledgment claim must fail. ACLU DOD, 628
F.3d 621. That true even the previous disclosures are the same topic. See, e.g.,
Competitive Enter. Inst., Supp. Presidential statement that the intelligence
community looking phone numbers and durations calls, was not adequately
congruent with request seeking the companies that had provided that data U.S. intelligence
agencies); Wolf, 473 F.3d 379 (holding that CIA could not claim Glomar protection when
had previously read excerpts from materials sought into the record during congressional
hearing).
Third, the information requested must already have been made public through
official and documented disclosure. Id. 378 (quoting Fitzgibbon, 911 F.2d 765). Key
this element that the source must official; non-governmental releases, anonymous leaks government officials former government officials not qualify. See, e.g., ACLU DOD,
628 F.3d 621-22; Agility Public Warehousing Co. K.S.C., 113 Supp. 330 n.8;
Competitive Enter. Inst., Supp. 55. other words, mere public speculation,
matter how widespread, cannot undermine the agency Glomar prerogative. Wolf, 473 F.3d
378. And Congressional statements also cannot waive Executive Branch classification other
Exemptions. See Military Audit Project, 656 F.2d 742-745; see also Moore CIA, 666 F.3d
1330, 1333 n.4 (D.C. Cir. 2011) [W]e not deem official disclosure made someone
other than the agency from which the information being sought.
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page
Plaintiff cannot meet its burden pointing official disclosure the information
they seek. The Findlay Declaration establishes that authorized government official has
disclosed the precise information withheld. See Findlay Decl. 11, 19. Neither the
Complaint nor the request point any statements that could constitute official acknowledgment,
and nothing Michael Flynn guilty plea and associated documents confirms denies the
existence FISA applications. Accordingly, Plaintiff cannot establish official acknowledgment.
CONCLUSION
For the foregoing reasons, the Court should grant the Government motion for summary
judgment.
Dated: August 30, 2018
Respectfully Submitted,
CHAD READLER
Acting Assistant Attorney General
ELIZABETH SHAPIRO
Deputy Director, Federal Programs Branch
/s/Amy Powell
AMY POWELL
Federal Programs Branch
Civil Division, Department Justice
310 New Bern Avenue, Suite 800
Federal Building
Raleigh, 27601-1461
Phone: 919-856-4013
Email: amy.powell@usdoj.gov
Attorneys for Defendant
Case 1:18-cv-01050-ABJ Document Filed 08/30/18 Page THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT COLUMBIA
JUDICIAL WATCH,
Plaintiff,
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT JUSTICE,
Defendant.
Case No. 18-CV-01050-ABJ
[PROPOSED] ORDER DEFENDANT MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
Having considered the submissions the parties, the Court hereby ORDERS that the
Defendant Motion for Summary Judgment GRANTED.
U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
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