FBI Vacuums Up Local Law Enforcement Documents To Block Open Records Requests About Orlando Shooting

from the PROPERTY-OF-THE-FBI-stamp-ink-running-dangerously-low dept

The FBI has decided to insert itself into another public records battle. The agency has long been known to cc: itself to public records requests for Stingray documents, but this time it’s claiming any requests for local law enforcement documents related to the Orlando nightclub shooting need to be routed through it.

A June 20 letter from the FBI, attached to the City or Orlando’s lawsuit over withholding 911 calls and other records from 25 media outlets including the Orlando Sentinel, was also sent to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office with instructions pertaining to how they should respond to records requests.

The letter requests that agencies deny inquiries and directs departments to “immediately notify the FBI of any requests your agency received” so “the FBI can seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels, as necessary.”

Notice the FBI says “prevent disclosure,” rather than, say, “assist in determining which documents can be released.” The letter [PDF] claims that all records generated by local law enforcement agencies are now the FBI’s by proxy and that the “investigative documents” exemption [Exemption 7(A)] prevents the release of all documents related to the shooting.

The FBI flat-out states all documents are belong to it.

The FBI considers information obtained from state and local law enforcement agencies in furtherance of its investigation to be evidence, or potential evidence.

Presto! Instant blanket exemption from disclosure at both federal and state level. The FBI takes care to point out which Florida Sunshine Law exemption local agencies can use to withhold documents from requesters.

There’s significant public interest in these documents, especially those related to EMS/police response to emergency calls. This obviously conflicts with the FBI’s determination that its ongoing investigation — which now apparently contains every document created by every responding law enforcement agency in Florida — should preempt any and all requests for documents via Florida open records laws.

Not for nothing have there been several efforts mounted to alter blanket exemptions like the one the FBI is using to insert itself into local level records requests. Unfortunately, it’s very likely the FBI’s wielding of this “open investigation” exemption will be granted deference by the federal court currently presiding over an open records lawsuit between the Orlando Sentinel and the City of Orlando, even though this fight never should have included a federal agency conducting its own concurrent investigation of the mass shooting.

Filed Under: , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “FBI Vacuums Up Local Law Enforcement Documents To Block Open Records Requests About Orlando Shooting”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
I.T. Guy says:

Re: Conspiracy!

No its the government own actions that causes PPL to believe, and rightly so, that our gov is capable of self terrorism.

And hey, Its not like our Gov proposed dressing up planes and faking “Student” deaths and it’s not like they wanted to bomb military bases and blame it on the Cubans… Wait wat?

Its not like the FBI picks borderline retards gives them the means then arrests them saying “Lookee here we caught more of dem terrorists.” Give up your rights.

Its not like our Gov would experiment in secret on black men with Syphilis, not tell them, then follow them for 40 years.

It’s not like the CIA used drugs, electronics, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, verbal and sexual abuse, and torture to conduct experimental behavioral engineering experiments on subjects. The program subcontracted hundreds of these projects to over 80 different institutions, including universities, hospitals, prisons, and pharmaceutical companies.

And hey, It’s not like the CIA facilitated the sale of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army.

And hey, It’s not like the CIA launched a top secret project called Operation Mockingbird. Their goal was to buy influence and control among the major media outlets. They also planned to put journalists and reporters directly on the CIA payroll, which some claim is ongoing to this day.

And hey, it’s not like our gov would cover up a cancer causing vaccine. (SV40 contamination)

It’s not like our gov would pay a 15 year old to lie and say she saw atrocities committed to children by Iraqis.

And hey… it’s not like our gov would strip the history of Nazi Party scientists as to lure them to America. Right?

Hey, its not like our gov to sell guns to Mexican gun dealers and its not like we found documentation that proved ATF agents discussing how these guns were passed to Mexican gun dealers based in the U.S. The idea behind doing this was when these guns were used to commit crimes, it would justify passing stricter gun laws in America.

Nah… none of that shit happens here in America. It’s all just wild Conspiracy Theory… right?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Conspiracy!

One of the reasons we went UFO crazy and Grassy Knoll crazy and HAARP crazy in the 60s is because government conspiracies and cover-ups were all around us. We picked up they were there, but weren’t sure which ones were valid.

That situation hasn’t changed. When Blackwater and Abu Graib and Halliburton were happening, that was the stuff that surfaced, so of course we’re going to continue to guess at what else is going on.

We are still reeling from the Snowden revelations. Our administration is more opaque than ever (which is nothing short of an indictment of criminal activity at the top tiers of our government), what we know of the torture and drone-strike programs is atrocious, and we can be certain we only know a little of it.

This is why I can imagine a social cleansing engine in our prison systems. It’s not that I know something is going on, but that it’s too easy, and we’re too tempted to not. And when it gets blown open, we’ll find it’s been active for years.

So far, when things get publicized we find it’s far worse than we imagined. I expect that’s a pattern that won’t change.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

All records belong to FBI

Can we ask them to assert ownership of all credit reports and have them investigate anyone requesting information from a credit agency? This seems like a more appropriate (or more useful) use of their ‘authoritay’. At least then we might be sure that only ‘legitimate’ requests might, and I do mean might, get honored.

It might also slow down some identity theft as well, but that would be beyond the scope of the FBI’s (self directed) mandate. They want to know what you are using your ill-gotten gains (AKA salary) for anyway.

DB (profile) says:

Remember the 2015 Waco shootout?

It was widely reported at the time that it was a motorcycle gang battle.

Subsequent modifications to the story make it clear that it was a regular gathering, and that most of the shots were fired by police, rather than being from a fight inside the restaurant.

Even a year later, public records requests are being refused. No reports about how many of the 9 people killed or 20 wounded were shot by police. The little that has leaked out suggests that most of the wounds were from rifle rounds, which only the police were shooting.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s because this ‘shooting’ and other terrorism/shootings are completely 1000% fake. Drills gone live.

That’s what they’re hiding. Although if you don’t realize these events are fake by ignoring the happy, non-crying ‘parents of the dead’ and ‘friends’ and ‘witnesses’ then you are too far gone. And you are an asshole cunt.

DB (profile) says:

Only a crackpot would believe that the Orlando shooting was a hoax.

But it does appear that the efforts of the brave first arrivals at the scene were undone about 15 minutes later by the order to withdraw, hours of inaction, followed by an assault that resulted in police killing hostages.

It’s hard to see blocking the release of emergency response information, such as 911 recordings, as anything but a cover-up for mistakes.

skipNclair says:


Just another example of why you cannot trust the FBI, how many more will it take until you wake up people. Now I know some are awake, and I know that not all the members of the FBI are bought and paid for little lackeys but its time to understand they cannot be trusted, just like anyone running for office cannot be trusted, there is no hope in any candidate, and there is no posse coming to save us.

amanda says:

The truth is out there

Shouldn’t they be getting better at this shit instead of worse? or is this done sloppy on purpose as a diversion from something else?

What is the truth in a lie that itself is a lie to hide the truth? Fucking X-files… the rabbit hole is only as deep as you want it to go, sometimes its deeper, but you’ll never know.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...