BROWARD BULLDOG, INC., a Florida not-for-profit corporation, DAN CHRISTENSEN, founder, operator, and editor of the BrowardBulldog.com website, Plaintiffs-Appellants Cross Appellees,
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, Defendants-Appellees Cross Appellants.
Appeals from the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Florida D.C. Docket No.
WILLIAM PRYOR, MARTIN, and JORDAN, Circuit Judges.
WILLIAM PRYOR, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
appeal involves two requests for documents under the Freedom
of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552. In 2015, Broward
Bulldog, Inc., a newspaper published in Florida, requested
that the Federal Bureau of Investigation disclose documents
reviewed by the 9/11 Review Commission. Broward Bulldog and
its founder, Dan Christensen, contend that the Bureau has
concealed a connection between the terrorists responsible for
the attacks on September 11, 2001, and a Saudi family that
lived in Florida. In response, the government disclosed
hundreds of documents but redacted some information as
falling within statutory exemptions, id. §
552(b)(1)–(9). Broward Bulldog challenged several
redactions and argued that the Bureau failed to conduct an
adequate search. In a thorough opinion, the district court
granted summary judgment in favor of the government for most
of the redactions, but ordered the government to disclose
personal information redacted under Exemptions 6 and 7(C), as
well as confidential-source information redacted under
Exemption 7(D). Broward Bulldog and Christensen raise several
challenges to the redactions, and the government
cross-appeals the disclosures ordered by the district court.
We conclude that, with the exception of its rulings regarding
redactions under Exemptions 7(C), 7(D), and 7(E), the
district court did not err. We affirm in part, reverse in
part, and remand.
years, Dan Christensen, the founder of a newspaper named
Broward Bulldog, Inc., has doggedly maintained that a Saudi
Arabian family that lived in Sarasota, Florida, had
"troubling ties" with the hijackers responsible for
the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. In 2011, Broward
Bulldog published an article that stated that members of the
family "abruptly left their luxury home" two weeks
before the attacks, that they had contact with the hijackers,
and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the
family but failed to report the investigation to Congress.
The Bureau immediately admitted in a press release that it
investigated the family, but it denied that it found any
connection between the family and the attacks.
in 2011 Broward Bulldog filed a request under the Freedom of
Information Act for "records regarding the investigation
of the family, " and it sued the Bureau and the
Department of Justice to compel a response. The Bureau
disclosed many responsive documents, including a 2002
"Electronic Communication" by a Bureau agent. The
agent stated that "[f]urther investigation of the . . .
family revealed many connections between the [family] and
individuals associated with the terrorist attacks on
09/11/2001." The district court in that litigation
recently issued an opinion resolving Broward Bulldog's
challenge, although it has not entered a final judgment.
See Broward Bulldog, Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice (Broward Bulldog I), No.
12-cv-61735-WJZ (S.D. Fla. Aug. 22, 2019).
years later, in 2014, Congress directed the Bureau to create
a 9/11 Review Commission, also known as the Meese Commission,
to review the implementation of recommendations made by an
earlier commission. The Meese Commission reviewed the
investigation of the Saudi family and concluded that
"[t]he allegations that the family was connected to the
hijackers and/or the 9/11 plot were not substantiated"
and that the press accounts "were based on inaccurate
information and a poorly written and innaccurate [sic]
Bulldog filed two more requests for information in 2015. One
request sought information reviewed by the Meese Commission,
and the other asked for specific documents associated with
the Commission. In June 2016, Broward Bulldog again sued the
Bureau and the Department of Justice to compel a response to
Bureau produced many documents in response to the requests.
It first released 896 pages of records that it located in an
"electronic storage site" for Commission records.
It then released a few additional documents that it had
mistakenly withheld, and it disclosed two names that it had
previously redacted. Finally, in response to informal
inquiries from Broward Bulldog, the Bureau searched a few
other locations and disclosed several other records.
the Bureau performed these additional searches, the
government moved for summary judgment or moved to supplement
a pending motion for summary judgment three times. In support
of its motions, the government submitted a variety of public
and sealed documents. It submitted public declarations by
David Hardy, the section chief of the Record/Information
Dissemination Section of the Records Management Division of
the Bureau. It submitted sealed ex parte charts
called Vaughn indices, see Vaughn v. Rosen,
484 F.2d 820 (D.C. Cir. 1973), that linked blocks of redacted
text to the justifications for any exemptions asserted. And
it submitted sealed copies of all the responsive documents
for in camera review.
Bulldog sought to depose Jacqueline McGuire, the Bureau agent
who briefed the Commission, and the district court referred
the matter to a magistrate judge. Broward Bulldog sought to
depose McGuire to determine "the basis for her assertion
that the . . . 'many connections' memo was wholly
unsubstantiated." According to Broward Bulldog, if she
admitted that she had no basis for the assertion, then it
could "establish the bad faith of the [Bureau], "
and a finding of bad faith would, in turn, support its
argument that the Bureau is "now asserting exemptions to
disguise what [it] found, which was substantial Saudi support
for the 9/11 attacks." But Broward Bulldog agreed with
the magistrate judge that "to get discovery [it had] to
show [the government's] bad faith" in its
disclosure, and Broward Bulldog repeatedly asserted that it
had established the government's bad faith.
magistrate judge denied the motion. He explained that Broward
Bulldog had not established that the government acted in bad
faith in its disclosures and that Broward Bulldog was trying
to prove that "the [Bureau] had bad faith in the way
[it] conducted th[e] underlying investigation, not whether or
not the [Bureau] ha[d] bad faith in classifying and
disclosing documents." And it stated that, in any event,
McGuire "would have no information in regards to . . .
whether or not something was properly exempted . . . or
whether or not the [Bureau] did a proper search, because . .
. there's no evidence that she was involved in that
process at all."
objection to this order, Broward Bulldog argued that the
magistrate judge applied the wrong standard for proving the
government's bad faith. But the district court ruled that
Broward Bulldog invited this error when it "agreed with
[the magistrate judge that] the correct legal standard"
to obtain discovery required a showing of bad faith by the
government in its responses to the requests for documents. So
it "decline[d] to review on appeal a discovery issue
that was not properly presented to [the magistrate
district court issued three orders to resolve a long list of
merits disputes about the adequacy of the search by the
Bureau and the applicability of different exemptions to
different documents. It ruled that Hardy's declarations
established that the Bureau conducted an adequate search. It
explained that "the law only requires [a] search be
reasonable, not exhaustive" and that the declarations
were "sufficiently detailed and non-conclusory,
describing every step the [Bureau] took to identify
responsive records." It also explained that the
"conclusory" accusations by Broward Bulldog that
the Bureau was "act[ing] in bad faith . . . [we]re
insufficient" to bar summary judgment for the
district court approved several, but not all, of the
redactions. It upheld the redactions made under Exemptions 1
and 3, which protect, among other things, national security
information. See 5 U.S.C. §§ 552(b)(1),
(b)(3). It reasoned that "[w]hile the burden of proof is
on the [g]overnment, a reviewing court must recognize that
the Executive departments responsible for national defense
and foreign policy matters have unique insights into what
adverse [e]ffects . . . might occur as a result of public
disclosure of a particular classified record." And it
ruled that the government had satisfied its burden under that
standard. Although Broward Bulldog never moved for summary
judgment, the district court also ordered the government to
disclose all but two blocks of texts redacted under
Exemptions 6 and 7(C), which protect information that
implicates personal privacy rights. See id.
§§ 552(b)(6), (b)(7)(C). The district court largely
upheld the redactions of confidential-source information
under Exemption 7(D), see id. § 552(b)(7)(D),
though it ordered the government to disclose information in
document 27 that it had redacted under that exemption. It
upheld all the redactions made under Exemption 5, see
id. § 552(b)(5), which protects the deliberative
processes of an agency. And although the district court
initially ruled that the government had to disclose some of
the text that the Bureau redacted as disclosing
law-enforcement techniques and procedures, it later granted a
motion for reconsideration and upheld all the redactions made
under Exemption 7(E). See id. § 552(b)(7)(E).
Finally, the district court refused to "consider the
records produced in Broward Bulldog I, " even
though some of those records could be responsive to the
requests at issue. It explained that considering the records
"could potentially result in inconsistent findings in
the two actions."
STANDARD OF REVIEW
[C]ourt reviews a district court's grant of summary
judgment in a . . . case [under the Act] de novo,
viewing all facts and reasonable inferences in the light most
favorable to the non-moving party." Miccosukee Tribe
of Indians of Fla. v. United States, 516 F.3d 1235, 1243
(11th Cir. 2008).
Freedom of Information Act codified "a strong public
policy in favor of public access to information in the
possession of federal agencies." News-Press v. U.S.
Dep't of Homeland Sec., 489 F.3d 1173, 1190 (11th
Cir. 2007) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted).
The Act requires that "each [federal] agency, upon any
request for records which (i) reasonably describes such
records and (ii) is made in accordance with published rules .
. ., shall make the records promptly available to any
person." 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(3)(A). After an agency
receives a request for records, it may withhold information
from responsive documents only if it falls within one of nine
statutory exemptions. See Milner v. Dep't of
Navy, 562 U.S. 562, 565 (2011). Because "[t]he
purpose of [the Act] is to encourage public disclosure of
information, " responsive documents "are presumed
to be subject to disclosure unless [an agency] affirmatively
establishes that the requested records fall into one of [the]
exemptions." Office of Capital Collateral Counsel v.
Dep't of Justice, 331 F.3d 799, 802 (11th Cir.
2003). But the Act also "expressly recognizes that
important interests are served by its exemptions, and those
exemptions are as much a part of [the Act's] purposes and
policies as [its] disclosure requirement." Food
Mktg. Inst. v. Argus Leader Media, 139 S.Ct. 2356, 2366
(2019) (alterations, adopted) (internal quotation marks
review consists of three parts. At the outset, we review
whether the agency established "beyond a material
doubt" that it "conducted a search reasonably
calculated to uncover all relevant documents."
Miccosukee Tribe, 516 F.3d at 1248 (quoting Ray
v. U.S. Dep't of Justice, 908 F.2d 1549, 1558 (11th
Cir. 1990), rev'd on other grounds 502 U.S. 164
(1991)). We next determine "whether the district court
had an adequate factual basis for the decision rendered,
" and then determine whether the district court erred
when it ruled on the applicability of each exemption.
Id. at 1258.
divide our discussion in six parts. First, we explain that
the Bureau established that it performed an adequate search.
Second, we explain that the district court had an adequate
factual basis to render a decision. Third, we explain that
Broward Bulldog has abandoned its challenge of the denial of
its request to depose Agent McGuire. Fourth, we explain that
the district court did not err in most of its rulings on the
applicable exemptions. Fifth, we explain that the district
court did not err when it failed to make express findings of
segregability. Sixth, we explain that the district court did
not err when it refused to entertain a request for documents
that were already the subject of a separate, nearly identical
The Bureau Established that It Performed an Adequate
establish the adequacy of a search for responsive documents,
a government agency "must show beyond a material doubt .
. . that it has conducted a search reasonably calculated to
uncover all relevant documents." Id. at 1248
(alteration in original) (citation and internal quotation
marks omitted). The agency "may meet this burden by
producing affidavits of responsible officials 'so long as
the affidavits are relatively detailed, nonconclusory, and
submitted in good faith.'" Ray, 908 F.2d at
1558 (quoting Miller v. U.S. Dep't of State, 779
F.2d 1378, 1383 (8th Cir. 1985)). If the agency satisfies
this burden, "then the burden shifts to the requester to
rebut the agency's evidence by showing that the search
was not reasonable or was not conducted in good faith."
Id.; see also Karantsalis v. U.S. Dep't of
Justice, 635 F.3d 497, 500–01 (11th Cir. 2011).
"[t]he standard is one of reasonableness, " the Act
"does not require an agency to exhaust all files which
conceivably could contain relevant information."
Ray, 908 F.2d at 1558–59. So a requester
cannot rebut a showing of an adequate search by arguing that
he received only a subset of the documents that he thought
existed. See id. at 1559 ("The plaintiffs'
emphasis o[n] a particular reference to 582 interviews, while
they received information regarding only 384 interviews, is
not enough to rebut the government's showing of an
adequate search."). The agency "is not required . .
. to account for documents which the requester has in some
way identified if it has made a diligent search for those
documents in the places in which they might be expected to be
found." Id. (quoting Miller, 779 F.2d
at 1385) ("[I]t is not necessary to create a document
that does not exist in order to satisfy a . . .
request[er]." (internal quotation marks omitted)). And
the "late production" of documents does not
necessarily create an "adverse" inference.
Miccosukee Tribe, 516 F.3d at 1257. Instead, we must
"evaluate the reasoning behind the delay" to
determine "what inference, if any, can be or should be
Bureau satisfied its burden by submitting declarations that
were "relatively detailed, nonconclusory, and submitted
in good faith." Ray, 908 F.2d at 1558 (quoting
Miller, 779 F.2d at 1383). Hardy, the section chief
of the Record/Information Dissemination Section of the
Records Management Division of the Bureau, attested in his
fifth declaration that employees of his Section reasonably
believed that all responsive documents would be located in an
"electronic storage site" associated with the
Office of the Director. He explained that employees of the
Section contacted the Office and declined to search the
central records system, which houses investigative
information, because Broward Bulldog "sought specific
documents relating to the 9/11 Commission Report, and not
investigative records." Section employees provided a
copy of the request to two Office employees who served as
liaisons to the Commission; the two employees provided the
Section employees with access to the "electronic storage
site" for the Commission; and they did not direct the
Section employees to look elsewhere because they
"believed this electronic storage [site] contained all
the 9[/]11-Commission records [Broward Bulldog was]
seeking." The Section employees then performed a
"document-by-document search of all records on the
site" and identified over 800 pages of responsive
records. They did not identify any "leads to other
locations where responsive records may have been maintained,
" so they "concluded that additional searches were
response to inquiries from Broward Bulldog about specific
missing documents, the employees again corresponded with the
Office employees. The Office employees informed the Section
employees, for the first time, of an electronic file
associated with the Commission and stored on the central
records system. The Office employees told the Section
employees that they failed to disclose this file earlier
because they "believed all the information sought . . .
was housed in the electronic storage site." The Section
employees then performed a "document by document search
of all [of the] contents" of the electronic file. All of
the responsive documents were duplicates of the Commission
records previously found on the storage site maintained by
the Office. During their correspondence with the Section
employees, the two Office employees also "mentioned the
existence at some point of additional records they believed
to be destroyed" because the documents were sent to the
Records Storage and Maintenance Unit, which was expected to
maintain the documents for a year before destroying them. The
Section employees retrieved the documents, which had not yet
been destroyed, performed a "document-by-document
search, " and processed the responsive documents for
Bulldog argues that Hardy's declaration failed to
describe an adequate search. It points out that Hardy failed
to identify "the search terms the [Bureau] used."
But Hardy did not identify any search terms because the
Section employees performed a "document-by-document
search" of the electronic storage site, the electronic
file located on the central records system, and the
Commission documents sent to the Records Storage and
Maintenance Unit. And contrary to the argument of Broward
Bulldog, Hardy's declaration explained the basis for the
conclusion that responsive documents would not be located on
the central records system and why the Section employees
relied on the Office employees to guide their search. It was
reasonable to decide not to search the central records system
because that system is indexed by "subjects of
investigative interest, " and Broward Bulldog sought the
working papers of the Commission-which are not investigative
records. It made sense to rely instead on the personal
knowledge of two Office employees who served as liaisons to
the Commission to identify where responsive documents would
be. Indeed, the file the Section employees ultimately located
on the central records system contained only duplicates of
the records found on the storage site the Office employees
Bulldog stresses that the Bureau did not identify the persons
in the Director's Office who searched for documents, but
this omission is irrelevant. After all, the Office employees
performed no search. They instead identified the locations
that the Section employees searched. In any event, Hardy
explained that the Office employees were "liaisons to
the Commission, who were directly involved with" the
work of the Commission. And there is "no general
requirement for an agency to disclose the identity and
background of the actual persons who process [Freedom of
Information Act] requests." Maynard v. Cent.
Intelligence Agency, 986 F.2d 547, 563 (1st Cir. 1993).
Bulldog has failed to rebut the Bureau's evidence that it
conducted an adequate search. It argues that the
"failure [of the Bureau] to respond to [its] requests in
a timely fashion raised doubts in the context of this case,
" and it contends that the "sole" explanation
for the delay "was that 'unusual circumstances'
prevented a timely production of records." To be sure,
the late production of documents may support an
"adverse" inference if the agency fails to produce
a reasonable explanation for the delay. See Miccosukee
Tribe, 516 F.3d at 1257. But no adverse inference is
warranted here. The district court explained that the Bureau
was initially delayed in processing the request "due to
an overwhelming[ly] large backlog of pending . . . requests
and litigation" under the Act. And the government's
failure to meet the statutory deadlines does not support an
inference that it was acting nefariously, in any event.
Bulldog complains that the Bureau released
"piecemeal" batches of documents "on the eve
of important deadlines, like the deadlines for summary
judgment motions and trial, " but as the district court
explained, Broward Bulldog has offered nothing beyond
speculation to support its assertion that the Bureau sought
"strategic advantage" by manipulating when it
produced responsive documents. Although the Bureau did not
"exhaust all files which conceivably could contain
relevant information" when it first responded to the
request, Ray, 908 F.2d at 1558–59, it did not
have to do so. The initial search, together with the
continued efforts of the Bureau to provide responsive
documents, satisfied the burden to "conduct a search
reasonably calculated to uncover all relevant
documents." Id. at 1558 (citation and internal
quotation marks omitted); see also Miccosukee Tribe,
516 F.3d at 1256–57 (refusing to draw an
"adverse" inference even though "some de
minim[i]s number of documents were
overlooked in the initial . . . search"). And we agree
with the government that if we were to hold that a later
production of documents means that any initial search was
inadequate, we would effectively tell agencies not to perform
any additional searches in response to further inquiries.
Bulldog also argues that the Bureau failed to produce certain
documents, like transcripts of Commission interviews, but
there is no evidence that these documents exist in the first
place. The Bureau "is not required . . . to account for
documents which the requester has in some way identified if
it has made a diligent search for those documents in the
places in which they might be expected to be found."
Ray, 908 F.2d at 1559 (quoting Miller, 779
F.2d at 1385). The Bureau pursued all the leads it had,
Broward Bulldog identified no other locations for the Bureau
to search, and Broward Bulldog offered no persuasive evidence
that the alleged documents even exist.
amici newspapers argue that Broward Bulldog was
"precluded" from identifying missing documents
because the government filed its first motion for summary
judgment before the Bureau completed its search, but in its
briefs before this Court, filed well after the Bureau
completed its search, Broward Bulldog offers no evidence that
the transcripts exist. Broward Bulldog points only to the
Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. app. 2, §
11(a), which it argues requires agencies to make transcripts
of advisory committee meetings available to the public. Even
assuming this law applies to the Commission, it would, at
most, prove that the Commission should have kept
transcripts of its meetings, but we fail to see how it proves
that the transcripts Broward Bulldog seeks actually
exist. Mere speculation is not enough to rebut the showing by
the Bureau. See Ray, 908 F.2d at 1559 ("[I]t is
not necessary to create a document that does not exist in
order to satisfy a . . . request[er]." (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted)).
The District Court Had an Adequate Factual Basis to Render a
Bulldog argues that the government failed to offer detailed
declarations to satisfy its burden to justify the exemptions
it asserted. And it adds that the district court failed to
create a robust public record. We disagree.
review whether the district court "had an adequate
factual basis for the decision rendered." Miccosukee
Tribe, 516 F.3d at 1258. We have held that an adequate
factual basis can "be provided through a singular
method-such as affidavits, a Vaughn Index, or an
in camera review, or a combination of these
methods." Id. at 1259. When a district court
relies on declarations or Vaughn indices, these
documents are adequate if they supply "relatively
detailed justification[s], specifically identifying the
reasons why a particular exemption is relevant and
correlating those claims with [a] particular part of a
withheld document." Id. at 1258 (citation and
internal quotation marks omitted).
also held that a district court has the discretion to conduct
an in camera review of the documents to determine
whether the exemptions apply. Id. But we have added
that, because in camera review "undercuts the
traditional adversarial theory of judicial dispute
resolution, " Currie v. Internal Rev. Serv.,
704 F.2d 523, 530 (11th Cir. 1983) (quoting Mead Data
Ctr., Inc. v. U.S. Dep't of the Air Force,
566 F.2d 242, 250 (D.C. Cir. 1977)), a district court
"should attempt to create as complete a public record as
is possible" before it resorts to in camera
review, Ely v. Fed. Bureau of Investigation, 781
F.2d 1487, 1493 (11th Cir. 1986) (quoting Phillippi v.
Cent. Intelligence Agency, 546 F.2d 1009, 1013 (D.C.
Cir. 1976)). And in camera review should be used
"in only the rare case such as . . . where the disputed
documents are relatively brief, few in number, and where
there are few claimed exemptions." Currie, 704
F.2d at 531.
district court rendered its decision after reviewing several
declarations and three sealed Vaughn indices and
after conducting an in camera review of the
documents. The declarations and Vaughn indices
provided "relatively detailed justification[s],
specifically identifying the reasons why a particular
exemption [wa]s relevant and correlating those claims with
[a] particular part of a withheld document."
Miccosukee Tribe, 516 F.3d at 1258. For example, the
Bureau explains that it redacted text in document 2 under
Exemption 5 because it revealed "preliminary
recommendations on [Bureau] policies that have not been
implemented." And the redacted text-two sentences under
the heading "Gaps/Possible
Issues/Recommendations"-contains a specific preliminary
recommendation about how the Bureau should conduct future
interviews. Similarly, the government explains that it
redacted text from document 5 under the attorney-work-product
privilege codified in Exemption 5 because the text revealed
"attorneys' strategies and assessments in
anticipation of litigation, " including "the
thoughts, strategies, and opinions of [Civil] Division
attorneys handling the [relevant] matters." The redacted
text concerns specific plans that Department of Justice
attorneys had about several civil cases. These examples
highlight how, throughout its Vaughn indices and the
supporting declarations, the government disclosed "as
much information in the withheld documents as possible
without waiving the privilege." Miccosukee
Tribe, 516 F.3d at 1261 (internal quotation marks
omitted). And "it is fair to say that both [Broward
Bulldog] and the district court were able to understand why
each document or portion of a document was withheld as exempt
from disclosure, even without the in camera review,
" and that these documents provided an adequate basis
for the decision rendered. Id.
Bulldog argues that the justifications offered by the
government were inadequate because they contained
"boilerplate language, " but we have never
suggested that an agency may not use similar language to
justify withholding information in multiple documents. After
all, "[t]here are only so many ways" an agency can
claim the same exemption for related documents. Judicial
Watch, Inc. v. Food & Drug Admin., 449 F.3d 141, 147
(D.C. Cir. 2006) ("No rule of law precludes [an agency]
from treating common documents commonly."). As the
District of Columbia Circuit explained in Larson v.
Department of State, "an agency's response must
logically fit the particular facts and circumstances of the
case . . . but the fact that similar exemption explanations .
. . suit similar cases . . . is not a cause for further
judicial inquiry." 565 F.3d 857, 868 (D.C. Cir. 2009).
addition, in camera review ensured that the district
court had an adequate factual basis to render a decision. It
is "rare" for the government to provide
Vaughn indices, declarations, and the
relevant documents for in camera review.
Miccosukee Tribe, 516 F.3d at 1259. But the
government provided all three, including sealed
Vaughn indices that provide more specific
explanations than those that are in its public submissions.
And in Currie, we were satisfied that the district
court had a sufficient factual basis when the government
submitted allegedly "conclusory affidavits" as well
as the disputed documents for in camera review. 704
F.2d at 530. So the district court had a "more than an
adequate basis for determining the propriety of the
exemption[s]" asserted here. Miccosukee Tribe,
516 F.3d at 1261.
final note, Broward Bulldog suggests that we must determine
whether the government made redactions in bad faith, but we
disagree. Broward Bulldog cites no decision that supports its
proposal to require agencies to meet a requirement of good
faith before asserting a statutory exemption that would
otherwise apply. When reviewing courts consider good faith,
they do so to determine only whether to credit agency
affidavits detailing the reasons why an exemption applies or
why a search was adequate. See, e.g., Judicial
Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Secret Serv., 726 F.3d 208,
215 (D.C. Cir. 2013) ("[S]ummary judgment may be granted
on the basis of agency affidavits if they contain reasonable
specificity of detail rather than merely conclusory
statements, and if they are not called into question by
contradictory evidence in the record or by evidence of agency
bad faith." (citation and internal quotation marks
omitted)). They do not refuse to apply an otherwise
applicable exemption because the agency may not have been
motivated solely by whatever purpose motivated Congress to
create the exemption. See, e.g., Rimmer v.
Holder, 700 F.3d 246, 258 n.5 (6th Cir. 2012)
(explaining that the "discussion of agency bad faith [in
another decision] was brought up in the context of whether
the agency should be required to submit its records to the
district court for an in camera review, and had
nothing to do with the actual applicability of . . .
exemptions" (citation omitted)).
Broward Bulldog Has Abandoned Its Challenge Related to Its
Request to Depose Agent McGuire.
Bulldog argues that the district court erred in denying its
request to depose McGuire, the Bureau agent who briefed the
Commission on the Sarasota investigation, but it has failed
to challenge the determination by the district court that the
alleged error was invited. The district court explained that
Broward Bulldog could not argue that the magistrate judge
erred when he required it to prove the government's bad
faith in its disclosures to depose McGuire because Broward
Bulldog had "agreed with [the magistrate judge that that
was] the correct legal standard." And the district court
"declin[ed] to review on appeal a discovery issue that
was not properly presented to [the magistrate judge]."
To obtain a reversal of that ruling, Broward Bulldog
"must convince us that every stated ground for the
[ruling] against [it] is incorrect." Sapuppo v.
Allstate Floridian Ins. Co., 739 F.3d 678, 680
(11th Cir. 2014). Because Broward Bulldog has failed to
challenge the determination that the invited-error doctrine
applies, Broward Bulldog has "abandoned any challenge of
that ground, and it follows that the [ruling] is due to be
The District Court Erred in Only Some of Its Rulings on the
divide our discussion of the rulings on the applicable
exemptions in five parts. First, we conclude that the
district court applied the correct standard of review when it
ruled on the redactions made under Exemptions 1 and 3.
Second, we explain that the district court misunderstood
Exemption 7(C) and erred when it refused to apply the
exemption to redactions made in 17 documents. Third, we
explain that the district court erred when it applied
Exemption 7(D) to redactions made in documents 2 and 27.
Fourth, we explain that, with two exceptions, the district
court committed no error in applying ...