TITLE 50 - US CODE - SUBCHAPTER V - PROTECTION OF OPERATIONAL FILES

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 Directorate of Operations 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

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(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.

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(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 Agencys 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 courts 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.

50 USC 432 - Operational files of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

(a) Exemption of certain operational files from search, review, publication, or disclosure 

(1) The Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, with the coordination of the Director of National Intelligence, may exempt operational files of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency from the provisions of section 552 of title 5 which require publication, disclosure, search, or review in connection therewith.
(2) 
(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), for the purposes of this section, the term operational files means files of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (hereafter in this section referred to as NGA) concerning the activities of NGA that before the establishment of NGA were performed by the National Photographic Interpretation Center of the Central Intelligence Agency (NPIC), that document the means by which foreign intelligence or counterintelligence is collected through scientific and technical systems.
(B) Files which are the sole repository of disseminated intelligence are not operational files.
(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), exempted operational files shall continue to be subject to search and review for information concerning
(A) United States citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence who have requested information on themselves pursuant to the provisions of section 552 or 552a of title 5;
(B) any special activity the existence of which is not exempt from disclosure under the provisions of section 552 of title 5; or
(C) the specific subject matter of an investigation by any of the following for any impropriety, or violation of law, Executive order, or Presidential directive, in the conduct of an intelligence activity:
(i) The congressional intelligence committees.
(ii) The Intelligence Oversight Board.
(iii) The Department of Justice.
(iv) The Office of General Counsel of NGA.
(v) The Office of the Director of NGA.
(vi) The Office of the Inspector General of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
(4) 
(A) Files that are not exempted under paragraph (1) which contain information derived or disseminated from exempted operational files shall be subject to search and review.
(B) The inclusion of information from exempted operational files in files that are not exempted under paragraph (1) shall not affect the exemption under paragraph (1) of the originating operational files from search, review, publication, or disclosure.
(C) Records from exempted operational files which have been disseminated to and referenced in files that are not exempted under paragraph (1) and which have been returned to exempted operational files for sole retention shall be subject to search and review.
(5) The provisions of paragraph (1) may not be superseded except by a provision of law which is enacted after December 3, 1999, and which specifically cites and repeals or modifies its provisions.
(6) 
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), whenever any person who has requested agency records under section 552 of title 5 alleges that NGA has withheld records improperly 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.
(B) Judicial review shall not be available in the manner provided for under subparagraph (A) as follows:
(i) In any case in which information specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interests of national defense or foreign relations is filed with, or produced for, the court by NGA, such information shall be examined ex parte, in camera by the court.
(ii) The court shall, to the fullest extent practicable, determine the issues of fact based on sworn written submissions of the parties.
(iii) When a complainant alleges that requested records are 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.
(iv) 
(I) When a complainant alleges that requested records were improperly withheld because of improper exemption of operational files, NGA 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 paragraph (2).
(II) The court may not order NGA to review the content of any exempted operational file or files in order to make the demonstration required under subclause (I), unless the complainant disputes NGAs showing with a sworn written submission based on personal knowledge or otherwise admissible evidence.
(v) In proceedings under clauses (iii) and (iv), the parties may not obtain discovery pursuant to rules 26 through 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, except that requests for admissions may be made pursuant to rules 26 and 36.
(vi) If the court finds under this paragraph that NGA has improperly withheld requested records because of failure to comply with any provision of this subsection, the court shall order NGA 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, and such order shall be the exclusive remedy for failure to comply with this subsection.
(vii) If at any time following the filing of a complaint pursuant to this paragraph NGA agrees to search the appropriate exempted operational file or files for the requested records, the court shall dismiss the claim based upon such complaint.
(viii) Any information filed with, or produced for the court pursuant to clauses (i) and (iv) shall be coordinated with the Director of National Intelligence prior to submission to the court.
(b) Decennial review of exempted operational files 

(1) Not less than once every 10 years, the Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Director of National Intelligence shall review the exemptions in force under subsection (a)(1) of this section to determine whether such exemptions may be removed from the category of exempted files or any portion thereof. The Director of National Intelligence must approve any determination to remove such exemptions.
(2) 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.
(3) A complainant that alleges that NGA 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 courts review shall be limited to determining the following:
(A) Whether NGA has conducted the review required by paragraph (1) before the expiration of the 10-year period beginning on December 3, 1999, or before the expiration of the 10-year period beginning on the date of the most recent review.
(B) Whether NGA, in fact, considered the criteria set forth in paragraph (2) in conducting the required review.

50 USC 432a - Operational files of the National Reconnaissance Office

(a) Exemption of certain operational files from search, review, publication, or disclosure 

(1) The Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, with the coordination of the Director of National Intelligence, may exempt operational files of the National Reconnaissance Office from the provisions of section 552 of title 5 which require publication, disclosure, search, or review in connection therewith.
(2) 
(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), for the purposes of this section, the term operational files means files of the National Reconnaissance Office (hereafter in this section referred to as NRO) that document the means by which foreign intelligence or counterintelligence is collected through scientific and technical systems.
(B) Files which are the sole repository of disseminated intelligence are not operational files.
(3) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), exempted operational files shall continue to be subject to search and review for information concerning
(A) United States citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence who have requested information on themselves pursuant to the provisions of section 552 or 552a of title 5;
(B) any special activity the existence of which is not exempt from disclosure under the provisions of section 552 of title 5; or
(C) the specific subject matter of an investigation by any of the following for any impropriety, or violation of law, Executive order, or Presidential directive, in the conduct of an intelligence activity:
(i) The Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives.
(ii) The Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate.
(iii) The Intelligence Oversight Board.
(iv) The Department of Justice.
(v) The Office of General Counsel of NRO.
(vi) The Office of the Director of NRO.
(vii) The Office of the Inspector General of the NRO.
(4) 
(A) Files that are not exempted under paragraph (1) which contain information derived or disseminated from exempted operational files shall be subject to search and review.
(B) The inclusion of information from exempted operational files in files that are not exempted under paragraph (1) shall not affect the exemption under paragraph (1) of the originating operational files from search, review, publication, or disclosure.
(C) The declassification of some of the information contained in exempted operational files shall not affect the status of the operational file as being exempt from search, review, publication, or disclosure.
(D) Records from exempted operational files which have been disseminated to and referenced in files that are not exempted under paragraph (1) and which have been returned to exempted operational files for sole retention shall be subject to search and review.
(5) The provisions of paragraph (1) may not be superseded except by a provision of law which is enacted after November 27, 2002, and which specifically cites and repeals or modifies its provisions.
(6) 
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (B), whenever any person who has requested agency records under section 552 of title 5 alleges that NRO has withheld records improperly 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.
(B) Judicial review shall not be available in the manner provided for under subparagraph (A) as follows:
(i) In any case in which information specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interests of national defense or foreign relations is filed with, or produced for, the court by NRO, such information shall be examined ex parte, in camera by the court.
(ii) The court shall, to the fullest extent practicable, determine the issues of fact based on sworn written submissions of the parties.
(iii) When a complainant alleges that requested records are 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.
(iv) 
(I) When a complainant alleges that requested records were improperly withheld because of improper exemption of operational files, NRO 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 paragraph (2).
(II) The court may not order NRO to review the content of any exempted operational file or files in order to make the demonstration required under subclause (I), unless the complainant disputes NROs showing with a sworn written submission based on personal knowledge or otherwise admissible evidence.
(v) In proceedings under clauses (iii) and (iv), the parties may not obtain discovery pursuant to rules 26 through 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, except that requests for admissions may be made pursuant to rules 26 and 36.
(vi) If the court finds under this paragraph that NRO has improperly withheld requested records because of failure to comply with any provision of this subsection, the court shall order NRO 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 and such order shall be the exclusive remedy for failure to comply with this subsection.
(vii) If at any time following the filing of a complaint pursuant to this paragraph NRO agrees to search the appropriate exempted operational file or files for the requested records, the court shall dismiss the claim based upon such complaint.
(viii) Any information filed with, or produced for the court pursuant to clauses (i) and (iv) shall be coordinated with the Director of National Intelligence prior to submission to the court.
(b) Decennial review of exempted operational files 

(1) Not less than once every 10 years, the Director of the National Reconnaissance Office and the Director of National Intelligence shall review the exemptions in force under subsection (a)(1) of this section to determine whether such exemptions may be removed from the category of exempted files or any portion thereof. The Director of National Intelligence must approve any determination to remove such exemptions.
(2) 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.
(3) A complainant that alleges that NRO 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 courts review shall be limited to determining the following:
(A) Whether NRO has conducted the review required by paragraph (1) before the expiration of the 10-year period beginning on November 27, 2002, or before the expiration of the 10-year period beginning on the date of the most recent review.
(B) Whether NRO, in fact, considered the criteria set forth in paragraph (2) in conducting the required review.

50 USC 432b - Operational files of the National Security Agency

(a) Exemption of certain operational files from search, review, publication, or disclosure 
The Director of the National Security Agency, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, may exempt operational files of the National Security Agency from the provisions of section 552 of title 5 which require publication, disclosure, search, or review in connection therewith.
(b) Operational files defined 

(1) In this section, the term operational files means
(A) files of the Signals Intelligence Directorate of the National Security Agency (and any successor organization of that directorate) that document the means by which foreign intelligence or counterintelligence is collected through technical systems; and
(B) files of the Research Associate Directorate of the National Security Agency (and any successor organization of that directorate) that document the means by which foreign intelligence or counterintelligence is collected through scientific and technical systems.
(2) Files that are the sole repository of disseminated intelligence, and files that have been accessioned into the National Security Agency Archives (or any successor organization) 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 any of the following:
(1) United States citizens or aliens lawfully admitted for permanent residence who have requested information on themselves pursuant to the provisions of section 552 or 552a of title 5.
(2) Any special activity the existence of which is not exempt from disclosure under the provisions of section 552 of title 5.
(3) The specific subject matter of an investigation by any of the following for any impropriety, or violation of law, Executive order, or Presidential directive, in the conduct of an intelligence activity:
(A) The Committee on Armed Services and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence of the House of Representatives.
(B) The Committee on Armed Services and the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate.
(C) The Intelligence Oversight Board.
(D) The Department of Justice.
(E) The Office of General Counsel of the National Security Agency.
(F) The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense.
(G) The Office of the Director of the National Security Agency.
(H) The Office of the Inspector General of the National Security Agency.
(d) Information derived or disseminated from exempted operational files 

(1) Files that are not exempted under subsection (a) of this section that 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) The declassification of some of the information contained in exempted operational files shall not affect the status of the operational file as being exempt from search, review, publication, or disclosure.
(4) Records from exempted operational files that have been disseminated to and referenced in files that are not exempted under subsection (a) of this section and that have been returned to exempted operational files for sole retention shall be subject to search and review.
(e) Supersedure of other laws 
The provisions of subsection (a) of this section may not be superseded except by a provision of law that is enacted after November 24, 2003, and that specifically cites and repeals or modifies such provisions.
(f) Allegation; improper withholding of records; judicial review 

(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), whenever any person who has requested agency records under section 552 of title 5 alleges that the National Security Agency has withheld records improperly 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.
(2) Judicial review shall not be available in the manner provided for under paragraph (1) as follows:
(A) In any case in which information specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interests of national defense or foreign relations is filed with, or produced for, the court by the National Security Agency, such information shall be examined ex parte, in camera by the court.
(B) The court shall determine, to the fullest extent practicable, the issues of fact based on sworn written submissions of the parties.
(C) When a complainant alleges that requested records are 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.
(D) 
(i) When a complainant alleges that requested records were improperly withheld because of improper exemption of operational files, the National Security 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.
(ii) The court may not order the National Security Agency to review the content of any exempted operational file or files in order to make the demonstration required under clause (i), unless the complainant disputes the National Security Agencys showing with a sworn written submission based on personal knowledge or otherwise admissible evidence.
(E) In proceedings under subparagraphs (C) and (D), the parties may not obtain discovery pursuant to rules 26 through 36 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, except that requests for admissions may be made pursuant to rules 26 and 36.
(F) If the court finds under this subsection that the National Security Agency has improperly withheld requested records because of failure to comply with any provision of this subsection, the court shall order the 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, and such order shall be the exclusive remedy for failure to comply with this section (other than subsection (g) of this section).
(G) If at any time following the filing of a complaint pursuant to this paragraph the National Security 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.
(H) Any information filed with, or produced for the court pursuant to subparagraphs (A) and (D) shall be coordinated with the Director of National Intelligence before submission to the court.
(g) Decennial review of exempted operational files 

(1) Not less than once every 10 years, the Director of the National Security 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 a category of exempted files or any portion thereof. The Director of National Intelligence must approve any determination to remove such exemptions.
(2) The review required by paragraph (1) shall include consideration of the historical value or other public interest in the subject matter of a particular category of files or portions thereof and the potential for declassifying a significant part of the information contained therein.
(3) A complainant that alleges that the National Security 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 courts review shall be limited to determining the following:
(A) Whether the National Security Agency has conducted the review required by paragraph (1) before the expiration of the 10-year period beginning on November 24, 2003, or before the expiration of the 10-year period beginning on the date of the most recent review.
(B) Whether the National Security Agency, in fact, considered the criteria set forth in paragraph (2) in conducting the required review.

50 USC 432c - Omitted

Section, July 26, 1947, ch. 343, title VII, 705, as added Pub. L. 109–163, div. A, title IX, 933(a)(1), Jan. 6, 2006, 119 Stat. 3413, which provided that the Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency could exempt operational files of the Defense Intelligence Agency from provisions of section 552 of title 5, defined operational files, authorized certain searches of exempted files and of information from exempted files, provided for judicial review of withholding of records and for decennial review of exempted files, ceased to be effective on Dec. 31, 2007, pursuant to subsec. (g) of section.