Freedom of Information Act

Posted on 12-18-2018

By: Christine N. Walz, Cynthia A. Gierhart, and Madelaine J. Harrington

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal statute that mandates public access to certain U.S. government and administrative agency records upon submission of a request to the appropriate federal agency. Under FOIA, any person is afforded access to federal agency records unless such records are exempt or protected from disclosure. Each federal agency promulgates its own administrative regulations that outline administrative procedures for requesting exempt records and implementing provisions of FOIA, which readers are encouraged to consult.

FOIA Overview

FOIA promotes public access to government documents by establishing “a general philosophy of full agency disclosure unless information is exempted under clearly delineated statutory language.” 1 Under the law, therefore, an agency must disclose agency records responsive to an FOIA request, unless the information requested is protected from disclosure by the statute itself.

Upon receipt of a request, an agency is required to make records promptly available to any person who makes a request that reasonably describes the desired records and is made in accordance with the statutory requirements regarding timing, place, fees, and procedures, which are explained further below. Additional information about the mechanics of making a request is also included later in this article.

In responding to the request, an agency must make a reasonable effort to search for the records and must provide the record in the format requested if it is readily reproducible in that format.

Statutory Exemptions and Timing Requirements

There are nine FOIA exemptions which allow agencies to withhold certain categories of information because the release would be harmful to governmental or private interests. 2 These exemptions are generally narrowly construed in favor of access. 3

The nine exemptions are for:

  • Classified information. Information properly classified by the U.S. government in the interest of national security.
  • Internal agency records. Records related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.
  • Exempt information. Information specifically exempted from release by federal statute.
  • Trade secrets. Trade secrets and commercial or financial information that could harm the competitive posture or business interests of a company.
  • Inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda and opinions. Opinions, conclusions, and recommendations included within inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters.
  • Unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Information that would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy of the individuals involved.
  • Records or information compiled for law enforcement. Records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, the release of which (1) could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings, (2) would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication, (3) could constitute an unwarranted invasion of the personal privacy of a third party, (4) could disclose the identity of a confidential source, (5) would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or (6) could endanger the life or physical safety of an individual.
  • Financial institution examination information. Information that is contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions.
  • Geological and geophysical information and data. Geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.

In addition to the exemptions above, there are three exclusions which supplement the FOIA exemptions. These exclusions place certain law enforcement records outside of FOIA’s scope, authorizing agencies to treat the records “as not subject to” FOIA. 4 When an agency relies on one of these exclusions, it responds to the FOIA requester stating that “no records” responsive to the FOIA request exist. 5 Or alternatively, the agency represents that “all responsive records” have been provided. 6

Timing Requirements

All federal agencies are required to respond to an FOIA request within 20 business days 7 , unless there are “unusual circumstances.” 8 This time period generally begins when the request is received by the FOIA office that maintains the records sought. In reality, agencies often take much longer to respond to FOIA requests.

Unusual circumstances may occur where:

  • The office processing the request needs to collect records from separate field facilities or establishments.
  • A single request requires examination of a “voluminous amount” of separate and distinct records.
  • The agency processing the requests needs to consult with another agency that has a substantial interest in the documents. 9

Despite this statutory requirement, this deadline for production of responsive documents is rarely met in practice.

Expedited Processing

A party that establishes a “compelling need” for the documents requested may obtain expedited processing. 10 FOIA defines compelling need to mean either (1) “that a failure to obtain requested records on an expedited basis . . . could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual,” or (2) where the requester is “primarily engaged in disseminating information,” and where there is an “urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity.” 11

Appeals of Adverse Determinations

In the event of an adverse determination, the agency must inform the requesting party of its right to appeal to the head of the agency within, at least, 90 days. 12

As a practical matter, however, it may be helpful to contact the agency and speak to the FOIA representative before pursuing an appeal. Moreover, even in the event of delay, an agency may be granted additional time to review a request if it establishes that it is exercising due diligence in processing the request. 13

If the request is denied again, in whole or in part, on appeal, the agency must inform the requesting party “of the provisions for judicial review of that determination.” 14

The agency’s final determination may be appealed in federal court. This appeal may be brought in the district court of the United States:

  • Where the complainant resides or has a principal place of business
  • In which the agency records are situated
  • In the District of Columbia15

In defending the reason for its denial, the agency must “stand on whatever reasons for denial it gave in the administrative proceeding” and may not present a defense that it failed to include in the original determination. 16

Additional information on the FOIA appeals process follows later in this article.

Fees and Fee Waivers

Agencies may charge a fee for the location and production of documents. Fees must be reasonable but differ depending on the reason the request is made. The fee groups include (1) documents sought for commercial use, which are subject to “reasonable standard charges for document search, duplication, and review;” 17 (2) documents that are not sought for commercial use, which are limited to “reasonable standard charges for document duplication” only, but only where requested by an educational or noncommercial scientific institution, whose purpose is “scholarly or scientific research,” or a representative of the news media; 18 and (3) documents sought by requesters that do not fall into either of the first two categories.

Prohibited Fees and Fee Waivers

FOIA provides several exceptions to the general fee provisions. An agency may not charge a fee for the first two hours of search time or for the first 100 pages of duplication where the documents are not sought for commercial use and where the request is made by an educational or noncommercial scientific institution whose purpose is scholarly or scientific research or by a representative of the news media. 19

In addition to the fees that must be waived pursuant to the provision above, an applicant may apply for a fee waiver if he or she can establish that “disclosure of the information is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government and is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester.” 20

The U.S. Department of Justice has issued a memorandum outlining six criteria that agencies should consider in assessing a fee waiver request. They are as follows:

  • The subject of the requested records concerns government operations and activities.
  • The disclosure is likely to contribute to understanding of these operations or activities.
  • Disclosure will likely result in public understanding of the subject.
  • The contribution to public understanding of government operations or activities will be significant.
  • The requester has a limited commercial interest in the disclosure.
  • The public interest in disclosure is greater than the requester’s commercial interest. 21

Selecting the Right Agency

Before initiating an FOIA request, it is worth spending some time researching which agency or agencies are most likely to possess the records sought. There are hundreds of federal agencies, departments, and sub-agencies, and a requester can lose significant time by directing the request to the wrong agency or department. The OPEN Government Act of 2007 created a requirement that FOIA offices must forward misdirected requests to the appropriate FOIA office within the same agency. However, the standard required response time of 20 business days does not begin until the correct office receives the request—and the original receiving office has 10 business days to forward the request. 22 The need to forward a request may therefore delay the response by two weeks. Additionally, the requirement to forward misdirected FOIA requests does not apply to requests made to the wrong agency altogether.

To avoid delay, requesters should spend some time reviewing agency and department mandates and governing regulations to become familiar with the types of records they are required by law to create and maintain. Additionally, agencies often maintain online libraries of previously released records. The requester may find that the records sought have already been made available. If they have not been previously made available, this will still help the requester become familiar with the agency’s system of records. The government also maintains a list of agencies that can be searched by topic. 23

Making the Request

The form of the request and phrasing of the request are two key components to any FOIA submission.

Form of the Request

There is no single form a requester must use to file an FOIA request. Most agencies accept requests via an online form (the most efficient method), mail, email, and fax. 24

Phrasing the Request

While it may be tempting to seek the broadest array of information possible, such broad requests may be denied outright or result in significant delays and costs to the requester. By law, an FOIA request must “reasonably describe” the records sought. Therefore, a request for “records identifying CIA personnel or affiliates that have engaged in torture” was denied as being overly vague because agency employees would have to “engage in quite a bit of guesswork” to fulfill the request. 25

Limiting requests to particular time frames, locations, people, search terms, or types of documents will help to prevent denial of the request and will also expedite the search and reduce search and copying costs that may ultimately be charged back to the requester.

Additionally, while FOIA requires agencies to make responsive records available, it does not impose the following additional requirements on agencies:

  • Agencies are not required to create records in response to FOIA requests.26 In one case, the CIA denied a request from Amnesty International for all records relating to policies and identities of secret detainees. The CIA said—and a federal district court agreed—that fulfilling the request would have required the agency to create a list of secret detainees and then search for records related to individuals on the list. 27
  • Agencies are also not required to answer questions or explain policies or procedures. 28 Therefore, a request to the Bureau of Prisons to explain the reason for a prisoner’s transfer or to identify who gave the order for the transfer will be properly denied. 29 On the other hand, a request for records containing an explanation for a prisoner transfer or records identifying the person who ordered the transfer may result in responsive documents, if they exist.

Response Time Frame and Expedited Review

Agencies are required to respond to FOIA requests within 20 business days. 30 An agency is not required to produce the records themselves within 20 business days; rather, an agency “must at least indicate within the relevant time period the scope of the documents it will produce and the exemptions it will claim.” 31 In practice, however, agencies frequently fail to respond within this prescribed deadline.

By law, an agency may extend the time to respond by an additional 10 business days in unusual circumstances, including the need to search for records located in another office, to review a voluminous amount of records, and to consult with another agency. 32 The agency must provide written notice to the requester if it claims unusual circumstances.

Further, the agency may make one (and only one) request for more information from the requester, and it may make unlimited inquires to clarify fee-assessment issues, each of which tolls the 20-day period until the agency receives a response. 33

Realistically, requests can take months if not years to elicit a response. In a 2016 report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform candidly titled “FOIA Is Broken,” the Committee concluded that many agencies have “abandoned” the statutorily required deadlines. 34

By way of example, the Committee noted one instance where it took the IRS two years to deny a request because the request did not reasonably describe the documents. 35

Effect of Late Responses

If an agency fails to respond to an FOIA request within the required time frame, the requester may immediately file suit without exhausting administrative appeal remedies. If the agency proves to the court that “exceptional circumstances” exist and that it is exercising “due diligence” in processing the request, the agency will be permitted additional time to complete the request, subject to the court’s supervision36.

Additionally, an agency may not charge the requester for search fees (or copying fees, for certain requesters) if the agency fails to comply with statutory time limits, unless unusual or exceptional circumstances exist. 37

Expedited Review

An expedited review may be available for requesters who can demonstrate a compelling need or for any other reason determined by the agency. 38 A compelling need is defined as either (1) the failure to receive the records on an expedited basis “could reasonably be expected to pose an imminent threat to the life or physical safety of an individual” or (2) the requester is “engaged in disseminating information, urgency to inform the public concerning actual or alleged Federal Government activity.” 39 Other reasons for expedited review may also be determined by the agency. The Department of Justice, for example, will grant expedited review if the records involve the “loss of substantial due process rights” or a “matter of widespread and exceptional media interest in which there exist possible questions about the government’s integrity that affect public confidence.” 40

An agency must notify the requester of its determination whether to grant or deny the expedited request within 10 days. 41 If the request to expedite is granted, the agency must process the request “as soon as practicable,” but there is no specified time limit for producing a substantive response. 42

Agency Determinations

A federal agency may issue various responses and determinations in connection with FOIA requests.

No Records and Glomar Responses

An agency may respond that it has found no records responsive to a request. If a requester has reason to believe the records do, in fact, exist, the requester may appeal the no records decision by challenging the sufficiency of the agency’s search.

Additionally, courts have held that agencies are permitted to neither confirm nor deny the existence of responsive records, where revealing the existence of a record would “cause harm cognizable under an FOIA exception” or the existence of the record is itself classified. 43 Responses that neither confirm nor deny the existence of records are named Glomar responses after the CIA’s classified Glomar Explorer Project, which was the subject of the seminal case deciding this issue. 44

Withholding

If an agency withholds any record, in whole or in part, the agency must give the reasons for the withholding. 45 Courts have interpreted this to mean that agencies must state which exemptions they claim support the withholding. 46 Additionally, agencies must notify the requester of the estimated volume of withheld records, unless doing so would “harm an interest” protected under the statute’s enumerated exemptions. 47

FOIA Appeals Process

A requester can appeal any adverse response—or even no response—from an agency. Therefore, whole or partial denials, no records responses and the sufficiency of an agency’s search, denials of fee waivers or requests for expedited review, and an agency’s failure to respond within the required time frame are all valid grounds for an appeal.

Administrative Appeals

A requester must first appeal an agency decision with the agency itself before it may file a lawsuit in federal court. 48 Only when an agency fails to respond within the required time frame may a requester skip the administrative appeal and proceed directly with a federal lawsuit. 49

Agencies are required to notify requesters in any adverse determination of their right to appeal to the head of the agency and should provide contact information in the denial letter of whom to direct the appeal. 50 The requester has 90 days from the date of the adverse determination to file an administrative appeal, or sometimes longer if permitted by the agency. 51

Agencies must make a determination on an appeal within 20 business days of receiving the appeal. 52

Litigation in Federal Court

Adverse administrative decisions may be litigated in the federal district court located in the district where the requester resides or has a principal place of business, where the agency records are situated, or in the District of Columbia. 53 The agency has the burden of proving the records should be withheld. The court may review the records in camera to determine whether a claimed exemption is proper. If the court finds that agency records are being improperly withheld, the court may order the agency to disclose the records.

A requester has six years from the “constructive” exhaustion of administrative remedies to file an FOIA lawsuit in federal court. 54 This means the six-year period begins once the deadline for an agency to respond has expired without a response or once an administrative appeal has concluded. However, the requester may reset the statute of limitations by filing a new FOIA request for the same information. 55

Procedural Considerations in FOIA Litigation

At the time of or after filing a complaint, the requester must present a summons to the clerk of the court for the clerk to sign and seal. 56 The court will likely provide a specific FOIA summons form for the requester to use. 57 An FOIA summons is different from other summons forms in that it notifies the government of a 30-day deadline to respond, which is shorter than the standard response time. Once the clerk signs and seals the summons, the requester must serve the summons and complaint on all three of the following entities by registered or certified mail: (1) the Attorney General of the United States (U.S. Attorney General, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20530); (2) the civil-process clerk at the U.S. Attorney’s office at Washington, D.C. (Civil Process Clerk, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, 555 Fourth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20530 (by mail). Hand delivery may be effected at the Fourth Floor of 501 Third Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.); and (3) the agency whose decision is being appealed. 58

An agency has 30 days to answer an FOIA complaint. 59

Discovery is rarely permitted in FOIA litigation; instead, cases are often decided based on the parties’ affidavits. 60 Agencies also may provide the court with a Vaughn Index, named for the case where it originated. 61 A Vaughn Index must “(1) identify each document withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption.” 62 “The purpose of a Vaughn Index is to afford the FOIA requester a meaningful opportunity to contest, and the district court an adequate foundation to review, the soundness of the withholding.” 63

FOIA litigation is typically resolved at the summary judgment stage and rarely proceeds to trial. Summary judgment may be granted in favor of the agency where “the agency proves that it has fully discharged its obligations under FOIA, after the underlying facts and the inferences to be drawn from them are construed in the light most favorable to the FOIA requester.” 64

Agencies typically rely on affidavits to support their motions for summary judgment. The court will deny summary judgment if the affidavits are conclusory or vague. 65 On the other hand, affidavits that provide “reasonably specific detail, demonstrate that the information withheld logically falls within the claimed exemption, and are not controverted by either contrary evidence or . . . bad faith” are “accorded a presumption of good faith, which cannot be rebutted by purely speculative claims...”66

A requester who opposes an agency’s motion for summary judgment must file an opposition or risk conceding the agency’s arguments. 67

Requesters may also file motions for summary judgment and submit their own affidavits. A requester moving for or opposing summary judgment must “establish that either: (1) the Vaughn index does not establish that the documents were properly withheld; (2) the agency has improperly claimed an exemption as a matter of law; or (3) the agency has failed to segregate and disclose all nonexempt material in the requested documents.” 68

Challenging the Sufficiency of the Search

When a requester challenges the sufficiency of an agency’s search for responsive records, the agency must prove “beyond material doubt that its search was ‘reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant documents.’” 69 That is, the agency “must show that it made a good faith effort to conduct a search for the requested records, using methods which can be reasonably expected to produce the information requested.”

Courts may rely on an affidavit from an agency explaining its search methods to grant summary judgment in favor of the agency. However, if the affidavit and other evidence “raises substantial doubt” as to the adequacy of the search, courts should deny the agency’s motions for summary judgment. For example, a federal district court found an agency’s search was inadequate where it failed to search the “small number” of individuals and locations identified by the requester. 70 However, “purely speculative claims” about the existence of records will not successfully rebut an agency affidavit71.

Challenging a Glomar Response

Courts accord great deference to an agency’s determination that disclosing a record or the mere existence of a record would cause harm under an FOIA exemption. 72

A court will therefore award summary judgment to an agency in a Glomar appeal where an agency affidavit describes the reasons for nondisclosure with “reasonably specific detail” and where the record contains no contrary evidence or evidence of bad faith. A court will support an agency’s Glomar response if it “appears ‘logical’ or ‘plausible.’” 73

Yet a requester may “overcome a Glomar response by showing that the agency has already disclosed the fact of the existence (or nonexistence) of responsive records.” 74

Withholding Pursuant to an Exemption

An agency’s partial or full denial of a request pursuant to an FOIA exemption may be appealed on the basis that a particular exemption should not apply to the requested information.


Christine N. Walz is a litigation and media attorney in Holland & Knight’s New York office. She is a member of both the firm’s Litigation Section and Media Practice Team. Ms. Walz is routinely called on to assist media clients with a wide range of First Amendment issues, including defamation, privacy, newsgathering, reporters’ privilege, and access to public records. She also has extensive experience in federal and state court litigation, defending clients in civil enforcement actions, and other complex litigation. Cynthia A. Gierhart is a litigation attorney in Holland & Knight’s Washington, D.C. office who is experienced in a variety of matters, including media, entertainment, trademark, consumer protection, and regulatory compliance. Ms. Gierhart brings the perspective of a former journalist and book editor to her work, advising newspapers and broadcast stations on state and federal open records laws, defamation, and other First Amendment issues. In addition, Ms. Gierhart has engaged extensively in trademark litigation and participated in domestic trademark prosecution and global trademark clearances. Madelaine J. Harrington is an attorney in Holland & Knight’s New York office and is a member of the firm’s Litigation and Dispute Resolution Practice. While attending Georgetown University Law Center, Ms. Harrington worked as a student attorney at the Institute of Public Representation, where she concentrated on communications and technology matters and supported the Federal Communication Commission’s effort to regulate prison phone services. Ms. Harrington also worked as an extern for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the Office of the Inspector General. She focused her efforts on internal privacy issues, specifically researching legal regulation of employer-issued smart-devices.


To find this article in Lexis Practice Advisor, follow this research path:

RESEARCH PATH: Financial Services Regulation > Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) > FOIA Regulations, Exemptions, and Application > Practice Notes

For an overview on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and related federal laws protecting personal information in government records, see

> PROTECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION IN GOVERNMENT RECORDS KEY FEDERAL LAWS

> Data Security & Privacy > Industry Compliance > Public Sector > Practice Notes

For information regarding state-specific protections of personally identifiable information in government records, see

> PROTECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION IN GOVERNMENT RECORDS STATE LAW SURVEY

> Data Security & Privacy > Industry Compliance > Public Sector > Practice Notes

For a review of FOIA exemptions, exclusions, waivers, and fees, see

> FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT STATUTORY EXEMPTIONS AND FEES

> Financial Services Regulation > Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) > FOIA Regulations, Exemptions, and Application > Practice Notes

1. NLRB v. Sears, Roebuck & Co., 421 U.S. 132, 136 (1975). 2. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552 (b)(1)–(9). 3. U.S. Dep’t of Justice v. Tax Analysts, 492 U.S. 136, 151 (1989); FBI v. Abramson, 456 U.S. 615, 630 (1982). 4. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(c). 5. Attorney General’s Memorandum on the 1986 Amendments to the Freedom of Information Act (December 1987); Department of Justice Freedom of Information Guide at 671 (2013). 6.Id. 7. 5 U.S.C.S § 552(a)(6)(A)(i). 8. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(B)(i). 9. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(B)(iii)(I)–(III). 10. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(E)(i). 11. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(E)(v), see also Nat’l Whistleblower Ctr. v. Dep’t of Health & Human Servs., 839 F. Supp. 2d 40, 43 (D.D.C. 2012). 12. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i)(III)(aa) 13. Open Am. v. Watergate Special Prosecution Force, 547 F.2d 605 (D.C. Cir. 1976). 14. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(A)(ii). 15.See 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(B). 16. Friends of the Coast of Fork v. U.S. Dept. of the Interior, 110 F.3d 53, 55 (9th Cir. 1997). 17. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(I). 18. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). 19. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iv)(I)–(II). 20. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii). 21. Memorandum from Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Policy, U.S. Department of Justice, to the Heads of Federal Agencies (Apr. 2, 1987); available at https://www.justice.gov/oip/blog/foia-update-new-fee-waiver-policy-guidance. 22. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(A)(ii). 23. This list is available at https://www.usa.gov/contact-by-topic. 24. A list of various agencies’ FOIA office contact information and links to online request forms are available at https://www.foia.gov/#agency-search. 25. Yagman v. Pompeo, 868 F.3d 1075, 1077 (9th Cir. 2017). 26. Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of State, 177 F. Supp. 3d 450, 456 (D.D.C. 2016). 27. Amnesty Int’l USA v. C.I.A., 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47882, at *12–13 (S.D.N.Y. June 19, 2008). 28. Jean-Pierre v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 880 F. Supp. 2d 95, 103 (D.D.C. 2012). 29.Id. 30. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i). 31. Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash. v. Fed. Election Comm’n, 711 F.3d 180, 182–83 (D.C. Cir. 2013). 32. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(B). 33. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(A)(ii). 34. Staff Report of U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, “FOIA Is Broken: A Report” (January 2016), available at https://oversight.house.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/FINAL-FOIA-Report-January-2016.pdf. 35.See id. at iv, 38. 36. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(C); Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash., 711 F.3d at 185. 37. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(4)(A)(viii). 38. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(E)(i). 39. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(E)(v). 40.See 28 C.F.R. § 16.5(e)(1)(iii), (iv). 41. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(E)(ii). 42. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(E)(iii). 43. Am. Civil Liberties Union v. C.I.A., 710 F.3d 422, 426 (D.C. Cir. 2013); Exec. Order 13526, 75 Fed. Reg. 707 (Jan. 5, 2010). 44. Phillippi v. C.I.A., 655 F.2d 1325, 1327 (D.C. Cir. 1981). 45. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i)(I). 46.See Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash., 711 F.3d at 186. 47. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(F). 48. Hidalgo v. FBI, 344 F.3d 1256, 1257 (D.C. Cir. 2003). 49. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(C); Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Wash., 711 F.3d at 185. 50.See 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(A)(i)(III). 51.Id. 52. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(6)(A)(ii). 53. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(4)(B). 54. Spannaus v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 824 F.2d 52, 58 (D.C. Cir. 1987). 55. Aftergood v. C.I.A., 225 F. Supp. 2d 27, 30 (D.D.C. 2002). 56. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(b). 57.See, e.g., http://www.dcd.uscourts.gov/sites/dcd/files/Summons-FOIA_2013_FILL.pdf (summons form for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia). 58. Fed. R. Civ. P. 4(i)(1). 59. 5 U.S.C.S. § 552(a)(4)(C). 60. CareToLive v. Food & Drug Admin., 631 F.3d 336, 345 (6th Cir. 2011). 61. Vaughn v. Rosen, 484 F.2d 820, 827 (D.C. Cir. 1973). 62. Citizens Comm’n on Human Rights v. Food & Drug Admin., 45 F.3d 1325, 1326 n.1 (9th Cir. 1995). 63.Citizens Comm’n on Human Rights, 45 F.3d at 1328. 64. Mo. Coal. for Env’t Found. v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng’rs, 542 F.3d 1204, 1209 (8th Cir. 2008). 65.See, e.g., Niagara Mohawk Power Corp. v. U.S. Dep’t of Energy, 169 F.3d 16, 18 (D.C. Cir. 1999). 66. Jacobs v. Fed. Bureau of Prisons, 725 F. Supp. 2d 85, 88 (D.D.C. 201 67.See, e.g., Augustus v. McHugh, 870 F. Supp. 2d 167, 172 (D.D.C. 2012). 68.Jacobs, 725 F. Supp. 2d at 88. 69. Valencia-Lucena v. U.S. Coast Guard, FOIA/PA Records Mgmt., 180 F.3d 321, 325 (D.C. Cir. 1999). 70. Comer v. IRS, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16268, at *1 (E.D. Mich. Sept. 30, 1999). 71. Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Dep’t of Def., 857 F. Supp. 2d 44, 53 (D.D.C. 2012), aff’d, 715 F.3d 937 (D.C. Cir. 2013). 72. Wolf v. C.I.A., 473 F.3d 370, 374 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (“[C]ourts must accord substantial weight to an agency’s affidavit concerning the details of the classified status of the disputed record.”) (internal quotations omitted). 73.Wolf, 473 F.3d at 374–75. 74.Am. Civil Liberties Union, 710 F.3d at 427–29 (finding that the public already knew the CIA “at least has an intelligence interest” in drone strikes).