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FBI Blocks Release of Orlando Massacre Records

Image: FBI Blocks Release of Orlando Massacre Records
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By    |   Thursday, 30 Jun 2016 12:34 PM

The FBI has requested that agencies involved in responding to the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando withhold related records from public view, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

"Immediately notify the FBI of any requests your agency received" so "the FBI can seek to prevent disclosure through appropriate channels, as necessary," the Justice Department agency said in a June 20 letter to the Seminole Country Sheriff's Office, among other law enforcement agencies that responded to the attack. The FBI also instructed agencies to forward a copy of the letter "to anyone requesting records," according to the Sheriff's Office.

Barbara Petersen, the president of the First Amendment Foundation, decried the attempt at withholding information.

The "FBI doesn't have the authority to hijack Florida's constitution, which guarantees us a right of access to all non-exempt public records," Petersen told the newspaper.

The FBI defended its decision in the letter, saying that releasing the records would "adversely affect our ability to effectively investigate the shooting and bring the matter to resolution." In addition, the agency said disclosure could put witnesses and officers at risk.

Public outcry compelled the FBI to release the full transcript of deceased shooter Omar Mateen's 911 call, which was initially censored to remove references he made to the Islamic State terrorist group, according to CNN. Mateen made the call during the hours-long incident.

Now, 25 media outlets, including CNN, The Associated Press, and The New York Times, are suing the Justice Department in federal court over access to 603 phone calls made to Orlando emergency services during the shooting, according to CBS News.

The city has asked for a court judgment on how to respond to the requests, and subsequently added the Justice Department to the case.

"What's a little more disturbing and disappointing is that we've been trying to work this out with the city for a long time and the court cleared its calendar," Carol LoCicero, a lawyer for the media companies, told the Sentinel. "I think this is about delay, delay, delay."

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The FBI has requested that agencies involved in responding to the mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando withhold related records from public view, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
FBI, blocks, release, orlando massacre, records, orlando
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2016-34-30
Thursday, 30 Jun 2016 12:34 PM
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