December 2nd, 2011
Muslim group hits FOIA request setback; Illinois rules for release of city council electronic messages
By Abby Henkel
Muslim group hits FOIA request setback: Politco reports that the group Muslim Advocates has filed a FOIA request seeking access to a 689-page FBI document that sets the rules agents are required to follow, including when tactics such as surveillance are allowed. The FBI had invited several civil rights and civil liberties groups to view and even take notes on certain chapters in the document in November 2008. Muslim Advocates was among these groups, and is now seeking to access the document again.
A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that this limited showing by the FBI does not constitute putting the document in the public domain. However, the court is requiring the FBI to detail its reasons for withholding almost an entire chapter on undercover “undisclosed participation” in civic and religious groups.
Illinois rules for release of city council electronic messages: Illinois attorney general has issued a legally binding ruling that electronic messages sent by city officials during council meetings are public information and must be released, according to the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette. In a letter to the deputy city attorney defending the city’s decision to deny the request, the newspaper wrote, “it is very possible and likely that city council members received communications that aid in the elected officials’ formulation of opinions and that consequently affect their votes.”
Abby Henkel is SPJ’s communications coordinator and a 2011 graduate of Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs master’s program. Reach her at email@example.com.