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Saturday, December 9, 2023
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 9, 2023 | Back issues
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Muslim Group Can’t Get Unredacted FBI Guide

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge dismissed claims that the Department of Justice improperly withheld unredacted sections of the FBI's Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide - including sections that address the infiltration of the Muslim community and religious organizations by law enforcement- from a Muslim civil liberties group.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan upheld the agency's argument that the redacted chapters of the Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide (DIOG) are exempt under the Freedom of Information Act because they detail specific internal investigatory techniques and procedures that could assist criminals, terrorists and foreign intelligence operatives.

In a 2008 effort to get feedback from the civil rights community, the FBI invited Muslim Advocates and other groups to review the entire 270-page guide without redactions at the agency's headquarters. The groups were given the opportunity to take notes on the guide, but had to return it at the end of the two meetings, prompting Muslim Advocates and other groups to express concerns that they were denied a meaningful review.

The FBI released portions of the DIOG to the public, but withheld "nearly entire sections on a number of topics - including sections that address the infiltration of Muslim community and religious organizations."

Muslim Advocates argued that the redactions were unjustifiable and that the FBI had already waived privilege by having already showed the guide in full.

Sullivan disagreed. "Although the FBI allowed Muslim Advocates and several other civil rights and civil liberties groups to view the disputed chapters during a two-hour meeting at FBI headquarters, the court is not convinced that such a limited review is sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the public-domain doctrine in absence of evidence that the disputed chapters are now 'truly public,'" he wrote on Thursday.

The judge granted the government's motion for summary judgment, but stated that a more specific affidavit is required to support the extensive redactions in one chapter of the guide.

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