Judge blocks Seattle from disclosing FBI surveillance info

Same tune, different song: citizens cannot know about their government spying on them because “disclosure could jeopardize ongoing investigations.” From The Washington Times

A federal judge on Monday blocked Seattle from releasing information about surveillance cameras the FBI has placed in the city, after the agency said the disclosure could jeopardize ongoing investigations.

U.S. District Judge Richard Jones issued the temporary restraining order after the Justice Department sued, seeking to prevent officials from releasing documents about where the FBI has placed hidden surveillance cameras on utility poles. The city had already released some documents, and the Justice Department said it filed the lawsuit to prevent further disclosures.

The city said it had planned to release the information pursuant to public records requests by news reporters and a privacy activist. The state Public Records Act typically exempts “specific intelligence information” from disclosure if its release would compromise effective law enforcement.
Kimberly Mills, a spokeswoman for the City Attorney’s Office, said she had no information about why city lawyers deemed the documents public, but that the city would abide by the federal court’s decision on whether they should be released. She knew of six cameras at issue, Mills said.

The Justice Department said that if the locations of the cameras are made public, the information could tip off investigation subjects that they are being monitored. The FBI had provided information about its use of the cameras to the city’s public utility, Seattle City Light, since 2013 under a promise of confidentiality, but only to prevent the cameras from being removed or destroyed by utility workers, the Justice Department said.