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Blog – Jennifer Allen

by  Caroline J.S. Picart, Ph.D., Editor-in-Chief, FJIL

Forthcoming in FJIL Issue 23.3 (December 2011):


Jennifer Allen,[1] awardee of the Florida Journal of International Law’s Best Case Comment in Fall 2011, writes a thought-provoking piece entitled: “A.C.L.U. v. United States D.O.D.:  Substantive Difference = Substantial Deference.”  Here, a case involving important domestic and international political issues, F.O.I.A. requesters, the A.C.L.U., sought to obtain records relating to the Government’s conduct underlying its stated policy and reported triumphs in relation to the Global War on Terror.  As Allen notes, “the Government had previously trumpeted the importance of the capture of the 14 ‘high value detainees’ and intelligence subsequently gained from them.” Thus, Allen observes that the case marks “a further retreat from the goals of F.O.I.A., in that the [F.O.I.A.] Act was initially envisioned to promote transparency in government.” For Allen, the holding demonstrates that “the D.C. Circuit’s jurisprudence regarding Government invocations of its state secrets privilege strengthens the Government’s ability to shield information from public scrutiny under the classification exemptions contained in the Act.”[2] Allen concludes with a witty pun that explains her title:  “Regarding compelled disclosure in the face of a validly claimed F.O.I.A. exemption, the Government’s assertion of substantial differences in the information sought and that, which had previously been released, resulted in substantial deference to the Government’s affidavit.”

[1] J.D. expected 2012, University of Florida Levin College of Law; M.A. expected 2012 in Development Practice, University of Florida.  She is also a Research Editor of theFlorida Journal of International Law.

[2] For an article similarly arguing against Governmental non-disclosure in relation to torture and terrorism, see Kate Kovaravic, Our ‘Jack Bauer’ Culture:  Eliminating the Ticking Time Bomb Exception to Torture, 22 Fla. J. Int’l L. 251 (2010).