FBI Redacted Comic Book Character Names in Recent Report

A United States citizen’s right to privacy apparently extends to the DC Universe and the city of Metropolis based on files recently released by the FBI.

Records released in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request reveal that the FBI redacted the names of several reporters who work for Metropolis’ Daily Planet newspaper. Those reporters include Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen.

The names were apparently redacted on privacy grounds. Who knew that fictional characters had an expectation of privacy?

The records are related to a case involving the Church of Scientology. The FBI originally withheld the documents by citing an exception from federal FOIA statute that allows the FBI to withhold a document if releasing it would “constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

The FBI was sued by MuckRock investigative journalist Emma Best last year after she was denied access to files related to the Church of Scientology. The FBI began releasing non-exempt records in June 2017.

These FBI files show that the Church of Scientology drafted a one-act play using characters from the DC Comics Universe that usually appear in Superman comics. The play is set in The Daily Planet newsroom.

The play involves a conversation between a Daily Planet reporter, the supposed greatest of them all, and a former member of the Church of Scientology whom the church is hoping to discredit. The former member’s name is also redacted but is said to have written an 88-page paper against the Church of Scientology that the Church believes has come into possession of the office of the Los Angeles District Attorney.

Gizmodo reports that the paper was written by Lawrence Wollersheim, who claimed that he was the subject of mental abuse that nearly drove him to suicide while he was a member of the Church of Scientology. Wollersheim was paid $8.6 million by the Church in 2002 to bring the long-running legal battle to an end.

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Attorney Dan Novack, who represents both Best and Gizmodo in their suits against the FBI, claims the redaction of the names of fictional characters is a testament to the FBI’s lack of due diligence in such matters.

“Though to be fair,” he said, “Kryptonians are entitled to just as much privacy as other Americans.”