Armed Forces Institute Of Pathology: Pentagon & Shanksville 9/11 Records Exempt From Disclosure

The following is a September 10, 2008 Freedom of Information Act response from the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP), regarding a request for records establishing the process of recovery and identification of forensic evidence from the crash scenes of American Airlines flight 77 in Arlington, VA and United Airlines flight 93 in Shanksville, PA on September 11, 2001. The records were deemed exempt from disclosure under U.S.C. § 552 (b)(7)(a) and (b)(7)(c) regarding law enforcement proceedings and privacy.

However, the process of collection and identification of forensic evidence from the Ground Zero site following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 was described in detail by the then head of the New York City medical examiners office, Robert Shaler, in the 2005 book "Who They Were: Inside the World Trade Center DNA Story: The Unprecedented Effort to Identify the Missing".

Although the AFIP described the following e-mailed record as a PDF within correspondence, the record was in fact a JPEG image file. A later request for a PDF copy of the said record was not granted.

According to AFIP e-mail correspondence, a copy of the said record was also provided via the USPS but was not received.

Redacted enlargement of original JPEG file:

Actual Size Of Barely Readable Image File

A redacted version of originally sized file:

Making the letter readable

You probably already know this. Use either "levels" or "brightness and contrast." in Photoshop or another image editing program.
Then, if you have a scanner with OCR (optical character recognition) - it will probably be able to read most if not all of the letter and turn it into a text file.

I am guessing that you already know how to do this, and that you are posting the barely readable jpeg image so that we can see what you received.

I'd argue you've not

I'd argue you've not received a response until they send something more legible, but here's an attempted transcript:

WASHINGTON, DC 20306-6000

September 10, 2008

Office of Legal Cousel

Aidan Monaghan
Las Vegas, NV -----

Dear Mr. Monaghan,

This is in response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated June 5, 2008 for all "records pertaining to the recovery and identification of human remains of those who perished in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, collected and identified from the Pentagon buildings in Arlington, V.A. and Shanksville, P.A. following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001." Your request was received on June 5, 2008 and referred to me in my capacity as Legal Counsel, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. This referral was received on and processed in accordance with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) 5 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 552.

The review has been completed and the potentially responsive documents are being withheld pursuant to the FOIA under the following Exemptions: Exemption (b)(6) prohibits the disclosure of an individual's personal information viewing it as an invasion of their personal privacy; Exemption (b)(7)(a) which prohibits disclosure of information which would interfere with an on-going law enforcement investigation; and Exemption (b)(7)(c) which prohibits disclosure of information that could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

Because your FOIA has been denied, you are advised of your right to appeal this determination to the Secretary of the Army. If you decide to appeal at this time, your appeal must be submitted within 60 days of the date of this letter. In your appeal, you must state the basis for your disagreement with the denial and the justification for the release of information associated with your request for this command. Your appeal should be addressed to: U.S. Army Medical Command, Attention Freedom of Information/Privacy Acts Office (MCPA), 2050 Worth Road, Suite 21, Fort Sam Houston, Texas 78234 6021, for forwarding, as appropriate, to the Office of the Secretary of the Army. Please enclose a copy of this letter with your appeal. To ensure proper processing of any appeal the letter and the envelope should both bear the notation, "Privacy Act/Freedom of Information Act Appeal". If you have any questions, please contact me at (202) 782 2124 or by email at


Catherine M. With
Major, U.S. Army
Legal Counsel

cc: John Peterson, Chief, Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Office, U.S. Army Medical Command.

Hey - Thats Pretty Good!

And good point regarding what qualifies as a response.

The e-mail containing the request for a PDF was confirmed as read, but the request was not granted. Also, they indicated during correspondence that my first mailed request was not received, even though the Post Office says it was.

Then, their alleged mailed response was never received by me. Finally, my appeal and follow-up letter were never responded to, although the Post Office confirmed both were delivered.

Anyone wishing a copy can contact me via e-mail for forwarding. I'd prefer not to publish its contents.

Their response indicates extreme bias.

Down here in Texas we call this kind of behavior CHICKEN SHIT. Her boss is John Peterson.

MR. JOHN PETERSON (210)221- 7826 ...

Does he approve of this method of response? Certainly this doesn't comply with the spirit of the FOIA.

There is no honor in being a chicken shit.