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NTSB FOIA image


10) Incomplete and untimely response to valid Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by FIRO and members of the public concerning the official investigation.

FACT: From October 1999 to May 2001, FIRO and its members have tracked six FOIA requests that FIRO sent to the NTSB requesting information related to the TWA Flight 800 investigation not available in the public docket. To date, the NTSB has not responded to three of these requests.

FACT: On October 4, 1999, FIRO sent a FOIA request (Attachment VII) to the NTSB for all "associated data and results" of the full-scale explosion tests carried out in Bruntingthorpe, England.

FACT: Some of that data was used by experts from the university of Southampton, England in an attempt to identify the type of explosion that caused the crash of TWA Flight 800. See item six above.

FACT: The NTSB took two and a half years to respond to FIRO's Bruntingthorpe FOIA request and ultimately denied releasing any of the requested information (Attachment VIII).

ASSESSMENT: The NTSB's Bruntingthorpe denial letter explains that releasing the information requested "would create a safety hazard, which is in clear violation of the agency's mission and mandate." However, while some raw data used in the tests may pose a safety hazard, other data could help determine the cause of the accident (see item 6 above) and lead to safety improvements for the flying public. This data should be released to the parties to the investigation and the public so that all of the evidence and analyses from the crash of TWA Flight 800 may be fully investigated.

ASSESSMENT: The NTSB's handling of FOIA requests appears to be unlawful. Title 49 requires that the NTSB make the results of its investigative efforts public and the Freedom of Information Act requires that responses to FOIA requests are sent within twenty days. The two-and-a-half-year delay in sending a two-page denial letter in response to FIRO's Bruntingthorpe FOIA request is unacceptable. The NTSB is urged to respond immediately to all FOIA requests more than 20 days old.


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