this image credited to OSHA shows the aftermath of 9/11 in New York City

NIST Asks 9/11 Photographers Whether Images Should Be Withheld

The National Institute of Standards and Technology received thousands of photos and video images from hundreds of photographers as it investigated the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings, and it must release copies to Freedom of Information Act requesters unless those images are exempt.

The photographers who shot thousands of photos and video images obtained by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as it investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, collapse of the World Trade Center buildings from a terrorist attack have 10 days to notify NIST that their images are exempt from disclosure or NIST will provide copies to requesters using the Freedom of Information Act, the agency said in a Federal Register notice today. FOIA (Title 5 U.S.C. 552) requires the government to release copies of documents it maintains if they are not protected by an exemption; the notice cites exemption (b)(4), which protects from disclosure any records, or portions thereof, that contain "trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential."

The notice states written responses must be received by the NIST Freedom of Information Act Officer, 100 Bureau Drive, Mail Stop 1710, Gaithersburg, MD 20899-1710 or by e-mail to Catherine.fletcher@nist.gov by the close of business on Aug. 24, 2009.

The agency investigated the collapse of the World Trade Center towers (Buildings 1 and 2) and World Trade Center Building 7. Its notice contains a link to two FOIA requests, apparently still pending, from attorney Michael S. Leavy of the law firm Gennet, Kallmann, Antin & Robinson, P.C., whose request states that the firm represents Consolidated Edison Company of New York and certain of its insurers in a New York U.S. district court case concerning the collapse of Building 7; and from James R. Gourley, director of the International Center for 9/11 Studies.

At http://fire.nist.gov/bfrlpubs/ are dozens of reports and documents from NIST's Building and Fire Research Laboratory analyzing the buildings' collapse, emergency response issues, and many other aspects of what happened that day.

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