Activist Demands Bush's FBI File

Does Bush have an FBI surveillance file? The FBI isn't saying. But it is not complying with a California activist's FOIA request to produce it.

Michael Petrelis, who says he placed a Freedom of Information Act request for the President’s file July 6, says he has not received the file. He made a request that the request be expedited due to the presidential election, but it was denied. The FBI confirmed to RAW STORY today that it had received Petrelis’ request July 28. In their letter denying an expedited release, the bureau said that the request had been placed in their regular processing queue.

The FBI would not confirm or deny whether they kept a file on Bush.

“Based on information you have provided, I have determined you have not demonstrated any particular urgency to inform the public about the subject matter of your requests beyond the public’s right to know about government activity generally,” wrote Records Management Division Section Chief David M. Hardy. “Accordingly, your request has been placed in our regular processing queue.”

Now the FBI says you can't put in a FOIA request for a living person. But others say that's a "simplification."

Michael Fitzpatrick, an attorney for the advocacy group Public Citizen, calls the FBI’s statement an “oversimplification.” He notes that under the law’s exemption number six, documents are only withheld if disclosure would amount to an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. “It’s a balanacing test between the interest in personal privacy and the public interest in disclosure of government records,” Fitzpatrick said. “Certain kinds of records like medical records or the personnel file of a government employee, those are generally exempt. But information on individuals’ business activities or professional activies – those things are generally disclosed.

“When we’re dealing with a public official, the privacy interest is not as strong as it would be if we were dealing with a purely private individual,” he added.

Kerry's files already have been released. thousands of pages of them. He was followed by the FBI when he spoke out against the war and raising money.

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