The CIA has had a lower court ruling reversed at the United States Circuit Court for the District of Columbia. The CIA had previously won summary judgment on a case where requester Jefferson Morley sought records on George Joannides, a deceased CIA agent.
The Circuit Court however found that the CIA's search wasn't adequate as it hadn't search usually FOIA exempt operational files because in this case there was an exception that made these files non-exempt from the FOIA in their entirety. The Court remanded the case back to the lower court for the CIA to search its operational files. Further, the CIA was ordered to search JFK act files that it had transferred to NARA, but had admitted to keeping copies of as well as to sent to NARA but that aren't to be released to the public until 2017. Finally, the Court found the CIA's description of its search inadequate and remanded the case for a further explanation of the search.
While the Circuit Court found the CIA Vaughn Index adequate, it found the lower court did not make a segregability finding and remanded the case for it to do so. The Circuit Court also found that the CIA had properly justified its use of Exemptions 1, 3 and 7(E).
However, the Court found a number of deficiencies with other exemptions and remanded those portion of the case for further agency explanation. The Court found that as to Exemption 2, the CIA did not meet its burden in establishing its use of low-2 to withhold certain material and remanded for further explanation. Likewise, the Court found that the CIA's defense of it's glomar response was also inadequate and remanded that portion of the case for further explanation. Next, the Court found that the CIA's justification of Exemption 5 was inadequate, thus on remand the CIA will have to explain that exemption's use further. Finally, the Court also found that the CIA's justification of exemption 6 was inadequate as it never established that any privacy interest in the withheld records existed.
To paraphrase Ricky Ricardo, it looks like the CIA has "lot's of 'xplaining to do".