“The Securities and Exchange Commission recently released documents related to its probe into the near-collapse of American International Group Inc. with hundreds of redactions to keep information secret.
“SEC officials blacked out information more than 800 separate times in one transcript of a witness interview that lasted less than three hours. On one page, redactions left just four words remaining: “okay,” “by,” “in” and “did.” On another page, “um hmm” is one of three short phrases left untouched.
“Among the blacked-out details: the names of witnesses, their lawyers, the SEC enforcement officials and even the proofreaders who checked the transcripts.
“The SEC released the documents in response to a public-records request by The Wall Street Journal that sought copies of interviews conducted under oath by the agency during its probe into the events leading up to the public bailout of AIG. The Journal this month appealed the SEC’s broad use of redactions.
“A spokesman for the SEC said the agency is committed to complying with freedom-of-information laws “to make sure we are transparent and accountable to those we serve.” He added that, “Last year…we invoked withholding exemptions in fewer than 10% of those requests where records were available.”
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