Firefighters’ 9/11 Tapes Ordered Released

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By: Samuel Maull, Associated Press Writer

(AP) An appeals court has ruled that the New York City Fire Department cannot edit out statements about emergency workers’ personal feelings when it releases documents and audiotapes showing the response to the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The State Supreme Court’s Appellate Division partially reversed a lower court ruling that directed disclosure of the firefighters’ and emergency workers’ oral histories, but ordered the removal of their personal expressions of feeling, opinions and recommendations.

In its 5-0 ruling made public Thursday, the appeals court ordered that the workers’ expressions of personal feelings should be restored, saying they did not fall into any category that makes public agency documents exempt.

But the court did not require the city to divulge the firefighters’ opinions and recommendations about the attacks, concluding that such material is covered by an exemption under state law.

The appeals court ruled in response to a request by The New York Times (Click for QuikCap) to obtain tapes of 911 calls made from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, as well as firefighters’ internal interviews following the attacks.

Lawyers for both the Times and the city said they were considering appeals. There is no timetable yet for when the city might release the records.

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