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WAR: FBI Protects Osama Bin Laden's Privacy

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posted on Apr, 23 2005 @ 06:44 AM
Judicial Watch announced Wednesday that the FBI invoked privacy right protections for Osama Bin Laden to censor documents obtained by the government corruption watchdog group as part of its investigation into the WTC attacks and ongoing litigation versus the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. According to Judicial Watch, the FBI invoked Exemption 6 under the Freedom of Information Act which permits the government to withhold information from "personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy".
Judicial Watch did an analysis of publicly available news stories cited in the FBI report and determined that bin Laden's name was redacted from the document, including newspaper headlines in the footnoted citations

"It is dumbfounding that the United States government has placed a higher priority on the supposed privacy rights of Osama bin Laden than the public's right to know what happened in the days following the September 11 terrorist attacks," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "It is difficult for me to imagine a greater insult to the American people, especially those whose loved ones were murdered by bin Laden on that day."

The redacted documents were obtained by Judicial Watch under the provisions of the FOIA as part of ongoing litigation of the case Judicial Watch v. Department of Homeland Security & Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

The original Judicial Watch statement:

The document obtained by Judicial Watch with Osama Bin Laden's details redacted:

The Freedom of Information Act:

A plain language summary of FOIA exemptions:

Osama Bin Laden's name, and also the names of members of the Bin Laden family were redacted. Judicial Watch determined the names which were censored by referencing news articles footnoted within the document, such as "__________: A 'Master Impresario'." Washington Post, 13 September 2001." which appears to refer to this story: Bin Laden: A 'Master Impresario'

Having read the document, which appears to be a rather thin report on the Bin Laden family, I am curious as to why the FBI even bothered. There appears to be no sensitive information contained within.

The FOIA exemption (exemption 6) invoked states "This section [of the law] does not apply to matters that are [...] personnel and medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy." I fail to see how the information contained in the document constitutes an "unwarranted invasion of personal privacy". The information is not personal, and labelling disclosure of information regarding Osama Bin Laden as "unwarranted" strikes the author as not only ludicrous, but patently offensive.

The only possible reason I can imagine that the FBI would censor the information in the document is in order to protect the Bin Laden family from identification and possible persecution. A "Freedom of Information" act becomes meaningless if exemptions can be and are invoked arbitrarily.

Related News Links:

Related Discussion Threads:
FBI, CIA and Other Government Files Released Under FOIA, Not For General Public
FOIA in jeopardy?
FOIA Information For Everyone To Have!

[edit on 2005/4/23 by wecomeinpeace]

[edit on 2005/4/23 by wecomeinpeace]

posted on Apr, 24 2005 @ 07:36 AM
More on the FBI protecting the Bin Laden's privacy rights here:


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