Navy Can Keep Weapons Files Secret, Court Says

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Courthouse News reports that the US Navy does not have to disclose the locations and potential blast ranges of military weapons stored on a small island in Puget Sound, a 9th Circuit panel ruled in a 2-1 opinion.

Glen Scott Milner, a lifelong Puget Sound resident and member of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking information on weapons stored at Washington's Naval Magazine Indian Island. Though the Navy oversees all operations on the island, the weapons are also used by US Joint Forces, the Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies and allied forces.

Milner managed to buy a section of the Navy's operations manual on the Web - information that the Navy considers "restricted," the ruling states. He then sought documents listing the types of weapons and explosives kept on the island and their "arc maps," along with safety instructions and operating procedures.

The Navy withheld 81 of the 1,000 files that met his parameters, and Milner filed suit in order to view the remaining documents.

The Seattle-based appellate panel allowed the government to keep those 81 documents confidential, because they fell under FOIA Exemption 2, which protects "internal personnel rules and practices." The three-judge panel rejected Milner's attempt to cast the exemption as applying only to law enforcement materials.

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