ACLU FOIA Request Yields Thousands of PagesCharles Davis
July 11, 2008 — 1,082 views
The American Civil Liberties Union today released thousands of pages of documents related to Navy investigations of civilians killed by Coalition Forces in Iraq, including the cousin of the Iraqi ambassador to the United States. Released today in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the ACLU filed in June 2006, these records provide a vivid snapshot of the circumstances surrounding civilian deaths in Iraq.
"At every step of the way, the Bush administration and Defense Department have gone to unprecedented lengths to control and suppress information about the human cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Nasrina Bargzie, an attorney with the ACLU National Security Project. "Our democracy depends on an informed public and that is why it is so important that the American people see these documents. These documents will help to fill the information void around the issue of civilian casualties in Iraq and will lead to a more complete understanding of the prosecution of the war."
The ACLU obtained documents from eight Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigations. One of the files documents the investigation of the death of Mohammed al-Sumaidaie, a cousin of the Iraqi ambassador to the U.S, Samir al-Sumaidaie. In 2006, the ambassador accused Marines of "intentionally" killing his cousin and today's records shed light on al-Sumaidaie's NCIS investigation for the first time. Among the findings uncovered in this file are conflicting accounts of events, questions of credibility, possible command influence issues and cover-ups.
Charles N. Davis is an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and the executive director for the National Freedom of Information Coalition, headquartered at the School. Davis' scholarly research focuses on access to governmental information and new media law, including jurisdictional issues, intellectual property and online libel. He has earned a Sunshine Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for his work in furthering freedom of information and the University of Missouri-Columbia Provost's Award for Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching, as well as the Faculty-Alumni Award.