The Yale Law Journal

VOLUME
115
2005-2006
NUMBER
3
December 2005
-
Note

The Mosaic Theory, National Security, and the Freedom of Information Act

David E. Pozen
115 Yale L.J. 628 (2005)

This Note documents the evolution of the "mosaic theory" in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) national security law and highlights its centrality in the post-9/11 landscape of information control. After years of doctrinal stasis and practical anonymity, federal agencies began asserting the theory more aggressively after 9/11, thereby testing the limits of executive secrecy and of judicial deference. Though essentially valid, the mosaic theory has been applied in ways that are unfalsifiable, in tension with the text and purpose of FOIA, and susceptible to abuse and overbreadth. This Note therefore argues, against precedent, for greater judicial scrutiny of mosaic theory claims.