Florida Bulldog by Dan Christensen
October 2, 2019
A split federal appeals court largely denied Florida Bulldog’s effort to compel the FBI to open up additional files about 9/11 after concluding that the public interest in knowing what happened is outweighed by the privacy interests of suspects, witnesses and FBI investigators.
“A bare interest in learning who may have been involved in the 9/11 attacks ‘falls outside the ambit of the public interest that the [Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)] was enacted to serve,’” wrote 11th Circuit Judge William Pryor in a 79-page opinion issued last week. Judge Adalberto Jordan concurred.
Judge Beverly B. Martin disagreed strongly in a partial dissent.
“The 9/11 attacks were a pivotal historic event and the government’s investigation of the attacks continues to generate great public interest,” Martin wrote. “The FBI…argues that the large amount of public information disclosed about the 9/11 attacks means there is little marginal interest in the release of this additional material.
“This argument does not persuade because this case has generated public interest in its own right. It involves a specific finding of fact by a Congressional Commission and has been publicly called into question by a former U.S. Senator who served on the…commission. The FBI contributed to this public interest in the case when it publicly disputed the Bulldog’s initial 2011 article on the al-Hijjis.”