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Case Name The New York Times v. United States Department of Justice NS-NY-0019
Docket / Court 1:11-cv-06990-WHP ( S.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) National Security
Case Summary
On October 5, 2011, the New York Times Company, an American media company, and Charlie Savage, one of its reporters, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 5 U.S.C. ... read more >
On October 5, 2011, the New York Times Company, an American media company, and Charlie Savage, one of its reporters, filed suit in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 5 U.S.C. § 552. The plaintiffs sought the release of a report received by congressional intelligence committees from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence on the intelligence collection authorities that had been authorized under the US Patriot Act and had been subject to expire before their renewal without amendment. The plaintiffs alleged that they were lawfully entitled to this report under FOIA, that the defendant had wrongfully withheld the entirety of this document for reasons of national security, and that they had exhausted their administrative remedies to obtain this report.

On February 27, 2012, the DOJ filed a motion for summary judgement, arguing that:
1. It had properly withheld the report for reasons of national security under FOIA because public disclosure of the requested report would harm national security by exposing sensitive intelligence sources and methods to adversaries of the United States.
2. It also had properly withheld the report under FOIA as material specifically exempted by certain statutes because the National Security Act of 1947, as amended by the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Protection Act of 2004, protected intelligence sources and methods from unauthorized disclosure.

On March 26, 2012, the plaintiffs filed a cross motion for summary judgment. They argued that:
1. FOIA required the court to engage in a fresh review of the defendant’s decision to withhold the report in its entirety.
2. The defendant had failed to prove that the report was properly classified and thus able to be withheld under FOIA.
3. The possibility that the defendant may be resorting to “secret law” and acting in bad faith, as raised by public statements from two US Senators, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon and Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, that the executive branch had misled Congress and the American public about its interpretation of US Patriot Act Section 215, justified the court’s close scrutiny of the defendant’s withholding.
4. The court, at a minimum, should conduct a private review of an unredacted version of the report and order the defendant to release segregable portions of it that describe the defendant’s legal interpretation of US Patriot Action Section 215.

On March 26, 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which had previously filed a suit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation to receive this and other reports, filed a motion for partial summary judgment with respect to this report. ACLU v. FBI.

On May 17, 2012, Judge William H. Pauley, having conducted a private review of the requested report, granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment and denied the motions of the plaintiffs and the ACLU for summary judgment and partial summary judgment respectively. He held that the defendant had acted in good faith and properly withheld the report in its entirety because:
1. The report contained “specific descriptions of the manner and means by which the United States Government acquires tangible things for certain authorized investigations pursuant to [US Patriot Act] Section 215” and its disclosure could enable America's adversaries to develop means to degrade and evade the nation's foreign intelligence collection capabilities.
2. Disclosing the reports would reveal and potentially compromise intelligence sources and methods and therefore was barred by the National Security Act of 1947 that protects intelligence sources and methods.
3. There were no segregable portions of the report that the defendant could release because all potentially non-exempt portions of the report are inextricably intertwined with exempt portions. (872 F.Supp. 2d. 309).

The case is closed and is cross referenced to ACLU v. FBI, which is also closed.

Chris Opila - 11/12/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
General
Records Disclosure
Plaintiff Type
Closely-held (for profit) corporation
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) United States Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description New York Times Company, an America media company, and Charlie Savage, one of its reporters
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Case Closing Year 2012
Case Ongoing No
Case Listing NS-NY-0008 : ACLU v. FBI (S.D.N.Y.)
Docket(s)
1:11-cv-06990-WHP (S.D.N.Y.)
NS-NY-0019-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/30/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
NS-NY-0019-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/05/2011
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Transcript of Proceedings [ECF# 27]
NS-NY-0019-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/04/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum & Order [ECF# 26] (S.D.N.Y.)
NS-NY-0019-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/17/2012
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Pauley, William H. III (S.D.N.Y.)
NS-NY-0019-0002 | NS-NY-0019-0003 | NS-NY-0019-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abdo, Alex (New York)
NS-NY-0019-0002
McCraw, David E (New York)
NS-NY-0019-0001 | NS-NY-0019-0002 | NS-NY-0019-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bharara, Preetinder S. (New York)
NS-NY-0019-0002
Clopper, John Dalton (New York)
NS-NY-0019-0002 | NS-NY-0019-9000
Daughtry, Emily E. (New York)
NS-NY-0019-0002 | NS-NY-0019-9000

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