50 USC § 431. Operational files of the Central Intelligence Agency
(a) Exemption by Director of Central Intelligence Agency
The Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, with the coordination of the Director of National Intelligence, may exempt operational files of the Central Intelligence Agency from the provisions of section 552 of title 5 (Freedom of Information Act) which require publication or disclosure, or search or review in connection therewith.
(b) “Operational files” defined
In this section, the term “operational files” means—
(1) files of the National Clandestine Service which document the conduct of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence operations or intelligence or security liaison arrangements or information exchanges with foreign governments or their intelligence or security services;
(2) files of the Directorate for Science and Technology which document the means by which foreign intelligence or counterintelligence is collected through scientific and technical systems; and
(3) files of the Office of Personnel Security which document investigations conducted to determine the suitability of potential foreign intelligence or counterintelligence sources;
except that files which are the sole repository of disseminated intelligence are not operational files.
(c) Search and review for information
Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, exempted operational files shall continue to be subject to search and review for information concerning—
(1) United States citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence who have requested information on themselves pursuant to the provisions of section 552 of title 5 (Freedom of Information Act) or section 552a of title 5 (Privacy Act of 1974);
(2) any special activity the existence of which is not exempt from disclosure under the provisions of section 552 of title 5 (Freedom of Information Act); or
(3) the specific subject matter of an investigation by the congressional intelligence committees, the Intelligence Oversight Board, the Department of Justice, the Office of General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Office of Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency, or the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for any impropriety, or violation of law, Executive order, or Presidential directive, in the conduct of an intelligence activity.
(d) Information derived or disseminated from exempted operational files
(1) Files that are not exempted under subsection (a) of this section which contain information derived or disseminated from exempted operational files shall be subject to search and review.
(2) The inclusion of information from exempted operational files in files that are not exempted under subsection (a) of this section shall not affect the exemption under subsection (a) of this section of the originating operational files from search, review, publication, or disclosure.
(3) Records from exempted operational files which have been disseminated to and referenced in files that are not exempted under subsection (a) of this section and which have been returned to exempted operational files for sole retention shall be subject to search and review.
(e) Supersedure of prior law
The provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall not be superseded except by a provision of law which is enacted after October 15, 1984, and which specifically cites and repeals or modifies its provisions.
(f) Allegation; improper withholding of records; judicial review
Whenever any person who has requested agency records under section 552 of title 5 (Freedom of Information Act), alleges that the Central Intelligence Agency has improperly withheld records because of failure to comply with any provision of this section, judicial review shall be available under the terms set forth in section 552(a)(4)(B) of title 5, except that—
(1) in any case in which information specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign relations which is filed with, or produced for, the court by the Central Intelligence Agency, such information shall be examined ex parte, in camera by the court;
(2) the court shall, to the fullest extent practicable, determine issues of fact based on sworn written submissions of the parties;
(3) when a complaint alleges that requested records were improperly withheld because of improper placement solely in exempted operational files, the complainant shall support such allegation with a sworn written submission, based upon personal knowledge or otherwise admissible evidence;
(4)(A) when a complainant alleges that requested records were improperly withheld because of improper exemption of operational files, the Central Intelligence Agency shall meet its burden under section 552(a)(4)(B) of title 5 by demonstrating to the court by sworn written submission that exempted operational files likely to contain responsive records currently perform the functions set forth in subsection (b) of this section; and
(B) the court may not order the Central Intelligence Agency to review the content of any exempted operational file or files in order to make the demonstration required under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, unless the complainant disputes the Central Intelligence Agency's showing with a sworn written submission based on personal knowledge or otherwise admissible evidence;
(5) in proceedings under paragraphs (3) and (4) of this subsection, the parties shall not obtain discovery pursuant to rules 26 through 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, except that requests for admission may be made pursuant to rules 26 and 36;
(6) if the court finds under this subsection that the Central Intelligence Agency has improperly withheld requested records because of failure to comply with any provision of this section, the court shall order the Central Intelligence Agency to search and review the appropriate exempted operational file or files for the requested records and make such records, or portions thereof, available in accordance with the provisions of section 552 of title 5 (Freedom of Information Act), and such order shall be the exclusive remedy for failure to comply with this section; and
(7) if at any time following the filing of a complaint pursuant to this subsection the Central Intelligence Agency agrees to search the appropriate exempted operational file or files for the requested records, the court shall dismiss the claim based upon such complaint.
(g) Decennial review of exempted operational files
Not less than once every ten years, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Director of National Intelligence shall review the exemptions in force under subsection (a) of this section to determine whether such exemptions may be removed from any category of exempted files or any portion thereof.
The review required by paragraph (1) shall include consideration of the historical value or other public interest in the subject matter of the particular category of files or portions thereof and the potential for declassifying a significant part of the information contained therein.
A complainant who alleges that the Central Intelligence Agency has improperly withheld records because of failure to comply with this subsection may seek judicial review in the district court of the United States of the district in which any of the parties reside, or in the District of Columbia. In such a proceeding, the court's review shall be limited to determining the following:
(A) Whether the Central Intelligence Agency has conducted the review required by paragraph (1) before October 15, 1994, or before the expiration of the 10-year period beginning on the date of the most recent review.
(B) Whether the Central Intelligence Agency, in fact, considered the criteria set forth in paragraph (2) in conducting the required review.
(July 26, 1947, ch. 343, title VII, §701, as added Pub. L. 98–477, §2(a), Oct. 15, 1984, 98 Stat. 2209; amended Pub. L. 104–93, title VII, §702, Jan. 6, 1996, 109 Stat. 978; Pub. L. 107–306, title III, §353(b)(10), Nov. 27, 2002, 116 Stat. 2402; Pub. L. 108–136, div. A, title IX, §922(b)(1), (2)(B)–(F), (d)(1)(B), Nov. 24, 2003, 117 Stat. 1573, 1574; Pub. L. 108–458, title I, §§1071(a)(6), 1072(a)(7), Dec. 17, 2004, 118 Stat. 3690, 3692; Pub. L. 111–259, title VIII, §804(6), Oct. 7, 2010, 124 Stat. 2747.)