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Judge Orders Release of 9/11 Tapes

Friday, March 25, 2005

The City is devising a system to release hundreds of 911 calls, FDNY radio dispatches, and firefighter oral histories related to the attacks of September 11th. The move follows an order by the state's highest court resolving three years of litigation.

The New York Times requested the tapes and transcripts under the state's freedom of information law so it could fully describe the rescue efforts at the Twin Towers. But, the fire department refused citing the privacy of the distraught victims and survivors of September 11th.

In its decision, the court of sought to split the difference, ruling that only the 911 operators' voices could be made public, not the callers'.

FDNY radio dispatches will be released, but only factual statements, such as a firefighters location. Any advice will remain confidential so that in future emergencies officials won't worry that a negative statement will become public.

All 511 oral histories will be released, but fire officials may ask a judge to withhold some remarks that could be personally embarassing to a firefighter or cause families undue pain.

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