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Administration Refuses To Release Gay Spying Documents

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Administration Refuses To Release Gay Spying Documents

by Doreen Brandt, 365Gay.com Washington Bureau

Posted: January 23, 2006 - 1:00 pm ET

(Washington) The administration is refusing to turn over documents related to allegations that it spied on LGBT civil rights groups.

The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, which represents gays in the military, and other LGBT rights groups sought the documents under the Freedom of Information Act. They filed the request early this month and asked that the government respond within 20 days.

Last month media reports said that the Pentagon has been spying on “suspicious” meetings by civilian groups, including student groups opposed to the military’s "don't ask, don't tell". (story)

The reports said that the Pentagon had spied on New York University law school’s LGBT advocacy group OUTlaw and gay groups at the State University of New York at Albany and William Patterson College in New Jersey.

The FOIA request included a demand for “any and all documents” concerning meetings and communications within and between LGBT organizations, including SLDN. The filing included a request for “reports, video recordings, audio recording and photographs” obtained through Pentagon surveillance.

Joining SLDN were Gays & Lesbians Against Defamation; the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association; the Human Rights Campaign; the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; the Los Angeles Lesbian & Gay Center; the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund; Lambdas, Chicago-Kent College of Law; the Mautner Project; the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects; the National Youth Advocacy Coalition; Outlaws, University of Michigan School of Law; Pride at Work, AFL-CIO; QLaw, University of Wisconsin School of Law; and OUTLAW, Stanford Law School.

In responding to the request FBI said the FOIA request did not "reasonably describe" the records sought.

The Freedom of Information officer for the Attorney General's office responded that their office "would not maintain" the records that were requested, but did not indicate if it had conducted a search to be certain.

The Department of Defense turned down the request saying that SLDN is not an organization primarily engaged in disseminating information to the public and that there is no imminent loss of substantial due process rights.

"I'm not surprised to learn that the government is attempting to stonewall our original FOIA request," SLDN spokesperson Steve Ralls said on Monday.

Ralls called the FBI response "outrageous" and said that the organization would continue to press for the documents.

"SLDN is undeterred in our efforts to find out what information the government obtained and for what purposes it may have used that information."

©365Gay.com 2006

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Did they really expect them to hand them over? nosmiley[1].gif

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