DOCUMENT DROP : Progress Queens files a FOIA Request for Preet Bharara's speeches


After direct negotiations for the release of a transcript of a speech delivered by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara at an 8 April convention of the New York Press Association failed, Progress Queens has filed a request pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, for a list of all speeches by, recordings and/or transcripts of, costs associated with, and policies for recording and/or preserving the speeches by U.S. Attorney Bharara.

Progress Queens had submitted a direct request to the press office of the U.S. Attorney's Office on the date of the speech, requesting a hyperlink to a Livestream recording or a transcript of U.S. Attorney Bharara's speech.

According to related discussions, which took place via e-mail on 9 April on by telephone on 11 April, James Margolin, U.S. Attorney Bharara's spokesperon, said that the U.S. Attorney's Office does not record speeches made by U.S. Attorney Bharara, because the U.S. Attorney's Office does not have a dedicated staff for that effort. What is more, Mr. Margolin added that any publicly-available posting of a recording made by the U.S. Attorney's Office of U.S. Attorney Bharara's speeches, if posted online by the U.S. Attorney's Office, must be provided in a format to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, namely, provided with captions for the hearing-impaired. Because the U.S. Attorney's Office doesn't have financial resources or staff for that effort, Mr. Margolin said that the U.S. Attorney's Office is unable to make such recordings publicly-available online.

Progress Queens countered that limitations of an agency's own making are not acceptable reasons for an agency not to comply with FOIA, placing emphasis on the fact that the present practises of the U.S. Attorney's Office mean that the Federal prosecutors' office was in violation of FOIA.

In an attempt to reach a compromise, Mr. Margolin indicated that the U.S. Attorney's Office could conform the written notes used by U.S. Attorney Bharara for the address he provided at the New York Press Association to prepare a transcript of his remarks, and that that conformed transcript would be provided to Progress Queens. Progress Queens was told by Mr. Margolin that that transcript would be provided in a few days.

When Progress Queens followed-up about that transcript last week, Mr. Margolin changed his story, informing Progress Queens that there was no transcript.

The FOIA Request filed by Progress Queens today is an attempt to identify all the speeches made by one of the most significant Federal Government officials, for the release of all recordings and/or transcripts of speeches made by U.S. Attorney Bharara, for the calculation of costs associated with those speeches, and to compel the identification of the written policies that govern the U.S. Attorney's Office's treatment of speeches given by U.S. Attorney Bharara.

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