Arieff v. U.S. Dep't of Navy - Case Brief Summary (Federal Court)
In Arieff v. Dep't of the Navy, 712 F.2d 1462 (D.C.Cir.1983), the Court held that the names of prescription medications ordered by the Office of the Attending Physician (OAP) for probable use by members of Congress or their families were disclosable because they would not identify the recipients of the drugs. 712 F.2d at 1467.
The requester in Arieff presented an expert's affidavit contesting the OAP's conclusions that certain drugs were only used in treating a small number of conditions and, therefore, disclosure of their names would reveal a particular medical problem and, together with other information, the identity of the recipient. Id. at 1465.
Furthermore, the OAP itself determined that only "certain drugs" might lead to identification. Id. at 1466-67
In Arieff v. U.S. Dep't of Navy, 712 F.2d 1462, 1469 (D.C.Cir.1983), the D.C. Circuit rejected a an argument that plaintiffs' counsel and expert should examine the government's affidavit under a protective order. 712 F.2d at 1469-71.
It reasoned that if the appellant's suggestion was adopted, it would adversely affect national security interests. It would "color public perception of the security of confidential information in government files" because "citizens whose personal privacy or commercial data is at issue, foreign governments that may have provided secret information to our Executive Branch, and, for that matter, the officials of our Executive Branch itself, will hardly have the assurance which it is the purpose of the FOIA exemptions to provide if hostile counsel and experts can ordinarily obtain access to assertedly exempt information." Id. at 1470.