Accusing the FBI of years of dishonesty in handling Freedom of Information Act requests, a legion of news organizations and support groups asked a federal appeals court Monday to protect Americans’ rights under the law.

The media’s vigorous arguments were made in a friend-of-the-court brief filed in Florida Bulldog’s recent appeal of a Miami judge’s June 29 ruling that would allow the FBI to keep secret thousands of pages of records about an apparent Saudi support network for the 9/11 hijackers in Sarasota and other information about the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“The FBI’s conduct of FOIA litigation, in this case and numerous others, denies the public its right to inspect agency records, in violation of Congress’ statutory mandate of disclosure,” says the 48-page brief written by attorneys Charles D. Tobin and Steven D. Zansberg of the Washington, D.C. law firm Ballard Spahr.

“Left undisturbed, the judgment below will deprive the appellants, and the American people, of FOIA’s promise and purpose ‘to open agency action to the light of public scrutiny.’ It will also leave unanswered disturbing questions about the events of 9/11, perhaps the most traumatic shared experience in our nation’s history.”

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