Jon Campbell writes:
Many a reporter has been stymied by the “Glomar response,” as it’s known, since 1975, when it was first established as a permissible answer to a federal Freedom of Information Act request. (The backstory, as recounted in this Radiolab segment, involves a sunken Russian nuclear submarine, a Cold War pissing contest, and a company called “Global Marine” — hence Glomar.)
The justification behind a Glomar response is that, in some cases, simply confirming the existence of certain records would be enough to undermine government interests.
But a recent court ruling might bring the legal principle involved into New York State for the first time.
The case involves a Harlem-based imam, Talib Abdur-Rashid, who sued the city to find out whether he and his mosque had been under surveillance by the NYPD. There are strong suggestions that Abdur-Rashid, who has for years preached a politically charged brand of Islam, may have been a target of the department’s “demographics unit,” which embarked on broad-based surveillance of Muslim groups in the years after 9-11.
Read more on The Village Voice.
Thanks to Joe Cadillic for this link.