By LOUIS FLORES
The publisher of Progress Queens staged on Monday a brief protest near the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan calling for the release of public records about the speeches of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The records are the subject of a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, and after the U.S. Department of Justice refused to release the records or to answer a FOIL Appeal, the publisher of Progress Queens filed a Federal lawsuit to compel the agency to release the records.
After Monday's protest moved next to the Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse, the top Federal prosecutor walked passed the publisher of Progress Queens. The publisher of Progress Queens asked U.S. Attorney Bharara to "release your speeches." U.S. Attorney Bharara looked in the direction of the protest banner, but he then crossed Centre Street.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Rebecca Tinio has been assigned to defend the DOJ in the FOIA Lawsuit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Tinio rejected a framework of a settlement offer proposed by the publisher of Progress Queens that included a provision that the U.S. Attorney's Office would propose a reform for the DOJ and/or Executive Office of United States Attorneys. The EOUSA generally processes all FOIA Requests made for records about U.S. Attorneys' Offices. In unrelated FOIA litigation between the parties, the DOJ admitted in filings made by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rukhsana Singh that the DOJ complies with FOIA at its discretion and that it was agency policy to wait for the makers of FOIA Requests to file lawsuits against the agency before the agency processed FOIA Requests. During that unrelated FOIA litigation between the parties, it was also revealed that the EOUSA misplaces FOIA Requests, closes out FOIA Requests, and, when challenged, reopens existing FOIA Requests under new requests numbers to cover-up its misconduct.
In the past, U.S. Attorney Bharara has complained about the lack of transparency in Government, saying, during one of the few speeches that are posted online and in relevant part, that, "... [T]here is a substantial transparency problem throughout New York government."
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