This week’s FOIA round-up: The Shutdown’s impact on immigration court, records show environmental agency pushed for prosecution of No More Deaths activists, and the NYPD holds on to protest photos
For this week’s FOIA round-up, a new report shows over 40,000 immigration hearings have been cancelled due to the government shutdown, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service pushed to have activists providing migrants with water prosecuted on environmental grounds, and recently released photos reveal that the New York Police Department might be in violation of its guidelines on protest surveillance.
Secretive federal agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are notorious for refusing to confirm or deny the existence of their records. The issue becomes trickier when local law enforcement agencies, tasked with serving their communities, reply to public records requests in similar fashion. The New York Police Department has used the infamous “Glomar response” in the past to keep records secret, but this week a New York court ruled that the NYPD can’t use it this time.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has made an initial release of its files on television executive Roger Ailes. Consisting largely of glowing background checks for a potential Presidential appointment under Richard Nixon, two interesting details have emerged from the file - the first is a 1974 arrest for felony firearms possession and the second is a brief interview documenting the minor role Ailes played in the FBI’s investigation into John Hinckley, Jr. following the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan.
Records released last week show D.C. Metropolitan Police Department employed a Long Range Acoustic Device during the Women’s March to “direct the crowd flow.” This is the latest evidence of an worrying trend in which police departments are increasingly using the incredibly powerful LRAD to deal with non-violent protests at the risk of causing permanent hearing loss.
Between the election and the inauguration, the NYPD spent an estimated $35 million guarding Trump Tower
Back in January, MuckRock’s Beryl Lipton filed public records requests with the NYPD for how much the city was spending in security details for President-elect Donald Trump. Those budgets just came in last week, and they confirm reports that Trump was costing his hometown the equivalent of a President’s annual salary every day.