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American Civil Liberties Union v. Dep't of Defense

October 29, 2008

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION, AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION FOUNDATION, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Royce C. Lamberth, Chief Judge,

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This matter comes before the Court on defendants' Motion [9] for Summary Judgment. Defendants contend that they have fully complied with plaintiffs' FOIA request, having invoked FOIA Exemptions 1 and 3 in the process. Plaintiffs oppose the motion, arguing that defendants have not adequately stated a basis for invoking the exemptions. The Court concludes that defendants' declaration provides adequate support for the claimed exemptions and will grant summary judgment for defendants.

I. FACTS

Plaintiffs made a FOIA request of both defendant agencies seeking records related to fourteen named detainees held at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Hilton Decl. Ex. A.) Specifically, plaintiffs requested:

1. Unredacted versions of CSRT [Combatant Status Review Tribunal] hearing transcripts.

2. Copies of all records provided to the CSRT by the detainees or their Personal Representative.

3. Copies of all records provided to the CSRT by the Recorder.

(Id.) Separate from plaintiffs' FOIA request, defendants had posted versions of those fourteen detainees' CSRT transcripts (eight unclassified and six redacted) on the Department of Defense's web site. (Hilton Decl. ¶14.) After defendants failed to produce additional records by the statutory FOIA deadline, plaintiffs filed suit. Defendants' declaration indicates that the parties agreed that this litigation would encompass only items (1) and (2) of plaintiffs' request (id. ¶12); plaintiffs do not disagree.

After plaintiffs filed suit, defendants sent plaintiffs the fourteen CSRT transcripts that had already been made publicly available. (Id. ¶16.) Defendants justify the redactions with FOIA Exemptions 1 and 3. (Id. ¶¶22--27.) Defendants also identified five records responsive to item (2) of plaintiffs' FOIA request:

a. A one-page document of [detainee] Abu Zubaydah;

b. A two-page written statement of [detainee] Khalid Sheikh Muhammad;

c. A seven-page written statement of [detainee] Hambali;

d. Two pages of "Detainee Session Notes" prepared by the Personal Representative of [detainee] Majid Khan and entered into ...


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