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Broward Bulldog, Inc. v. U.S. Department of Justice

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

September 23, 2019

BROWARD BULLDOG, INC., a Florida not-for-profit corporation, DAN CHRISTENSEN, founder, operator, and editor of the BrowardBulldog.com website, Plaintiffs-Appellants Cross Appellees,
v.
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. 0:16-cv-61289-CMA.

          Before WILLIAM PRYOR, MARTIN, and JORDAN, Circuit Judges.

          WILLIAM PRYOR, CIRCUIT JUDGE.

         This 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.

         I. BACKGROUND

         For 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.

         Undeterred, 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).

         A few 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] [electronic communication]."

         Broward 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 its requests.

         The 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.

         While 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.

         Broward 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.

         The 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."

         In an 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 judge]."

         The 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 government.

         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."

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         "This [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).

         III. DISCUSSION

         The 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 omitted).

         Our 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.

         We 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 lawsuit.

         A. The Bureau Established that It Performed an Adequate Search.

         To 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).

         Because "[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 drawn." Id.

         The 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 not warranted."

         In 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 release.

         Broward 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 initially identified.

         Broward 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).

         Broward 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.

         Broward 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.

         Broward 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.

         The 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)).

         B. The District Court Had an Adequate Factual Basis to Render a Decision.

         Broward 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.

         We 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).

         We have 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.

         The 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.

         Broward 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).

         In 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.

         On a 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)).

         C. Broward Bulldog Has Abandoned Its Challenge Related to Its Request to Depose Agent McGuire.

         Broward 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 affirmed." Id.

         D. The District Court Erred in Only Some of Its Rulings on the Applicable Exemptions.

         We 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 ...


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