Osen LLC v. United States Central Command, No. 19-1577 (2d Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Osen filed suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking military investigation records from terrorist attacks that occurred in Iraq between 2004 and 2011. The district court applied the official disclosure doctrine and concluded that CENTCOM could not withhold certain classified images contained in those records because another component of the DOD had previously disclosed that information.
The Second Circuit held that, although similar images from other, unrelated terrorist attacks have been produced in the past, no component of DOD has ever disclosed images of the attacks for which Osen seeks records in this case. Therefore, CENTCOM did not waive its right to withhold the images that Osen requested under the official disclosure doctrine. The court also held that it must give substantial weight to CENTCOM's position that disclosure of those classified images will pose a risk to national security, and thus CENTCOM properly withheld the images at issue under the first exemption from FOIA production. Accordingly, the court vacated in part and reversed the district court's decision, remanding to the district court.