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The CIA may keep information about its former detention and interrogation program from the public

New York

,

USA

The Second Circuit allows the CIA to keep information about its former detention and interrogation program from the public In American Civil Liberties Union v. Central Intelligence Agency, No. 18-2265 (2d Cir. 2022), the Central Intelligence Agency (the “CIA”) appealed a decision of the District Court for the Southern District of New York ordering the CIA to make public certain information contained in a draft summary of the CIA’s former detention and interrogation program and the transcript of certain ex-parte proceedings before the District Court. The Second Circuit ruled in favor of the CIA with respect to some of the information that was ordered to be disclosed by the District Court.The Second Circuit noted that, in the context of national security, agency affidavits that provide a reasonably detailed explanation of why any withheld documents fall under a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) exemption are sufficient to sustain the agency’s burden. Agency affidavits must describe the justifications for nondisclosure with reasonably specific detail and demonstrate that the information withheld logically falls within the claimed exemption and is not controverted by either contrary evidence in the record or by evidence of bad faith. Ultimately, an agency’s justification for invoking a FOIA exemption is sufficient if it appears logical or plausible (at 7-8).The Court reversed the decision of the lower court and allowed the CIA to redact the name and city of a war in a report which would associate the CIA with intelligence activities during that period of time and in that location. The Court explained that minor details of intelligence information may reveal more information than their apparent insignificance suggests, because, much like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, each detail may aid in piecing together other bits of information even when the individual piece is not of obvious importance in and of itself (at 9-10).The Court also allowed the CIA to redact various pieces of information where the CIA proffered a plausible reason for nondisclosure. This included information about the construction of detention facilities and transcript disclosures (at 11-16).

April 14, 2022
American Civil Liberties Union v. Central Intelligence Agency, No. 18-2265 (2d Cir. 2022)
Federal Courts (2nd Circuit)