March 18, 2008
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Records/Information Dissemination Section, clarifies its reportedly negative search results for records confirming the positive recovery and identification of the wreckage created by the federally registered aircraft reportedly involved in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
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Dear Mr. Monaghan:
This is in reference to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request Number and civil litigation referenced above, and a follow-up to our initial response letter dated September 24, 2007.
Upon receipt of your initial FOIA request for “documentation pertaining to any formally and positively identified debris by the FBI, from all four civilian commercial aircraft used in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001,” we conducted a preliminary review for potentially responsive documents. At that time, RIDS understood that any potentially responsive records were located in a pending file of an ongoing investigation, and therefore determined that they would be withheld in their entirety. Therefore, you received my initial determination, in a letter dated September 24,2007, that the material you requested is located in an investigative file, which is exempt from disclosure pursuant to Title 5, United States Code, Section 552 (b)(7)(A). An explanation of this exemption was included in my correspondence. Exemption (b)(7)(A) protects from disclosure records and information compiled for law enforcement purposes the release of which could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. You were also advised that you could appeal this denial by writing to the Office of Information and Privacy (OIP), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
You appealed to alP, and Associate Director Janice Galli McLeod, affirmed the FBI’s determination to withhold any potentially responsive records in their entirety, because they are protected from disclosure under the FOIA pursuant to 5 U.S.c., Section 552 (b)(7)(A).
We then received a copy of your complaint for injunctive relief, later amended, wherein you requested the FBI to “produce agency records, concerning documentation revealing the process by which wreckage recovered by defendant, from the aircraft used during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, was positively identified by defendant (with the aid of the National Transportation Safety Board), as belonging to the said aircraft, presumably though the use of unique serial number identifying information contained by the said aircraft wreckage, that was collected by defendant and which defendant has improperly withheld from plaintiff.” The Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS) again conducted a search for potentially responsive records.
After this extensive research, RIDS has been unable to locate any FBI records responsive to your request. RIDS’ search efforts included verification by the responsible FBIHQ operational division that because the identity of the three hijacked aircraft has never been in question by the FBI, NTSB or FAA (since other evidence collected after 9/11 has all corroborated the fact that American Airlines Flight 11, United Airlines Flight 175, American Airlines Flight 77 and United Airlines Flight 93 were the aircraft that were hijacked), no records would have been generated responsive to your request for documents “revealing the process by which wreckage recovered by defendant, from the aircraft used during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, was positively identified by defendant (with the aid of the National Transportation Safety Board), as belonging to the said aircraft, presumably though the use of unique serial number identifying information contained by the said aircraft wreckage.”
David M. Hardy
Record/lInformation Dissemination Section
Records Management Division
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