Thursday, March 12, 2015

Highly Private Front-Page News

Below is a letter from an office of the U.S. Department of Justice, denying a FOIA request for copies of the MLAT commissioner's subpoenas served on Boston College last year for Belfast Project interviews with Winston Rea.

While the DOJ refuses to release these subpoenas, the underlying federal court case involving the appointment of an MLAT commissioner -- and the response of Boston College to the subpoenas -- remains hidden from public view. I searched Pacer today for the case (again), and it still doesn't appear.

Absurdly, while the DOJ and the federal courts treat the Winston Rea subpoena (or subpoenas) as a closely held secret, those subpoenas are regularly the topic of news stories in Ireland and the UK, and the subject of a much-discussed legal challenge in British courts. The subpoenas are not a secret -- but the federal government continues to pretend that they are. Note that the secrecy of MLAT commissioner's subpoenas is far from guaranteed, and we now have copies of the subpoenas served on Boston College in 2011. Here's an easy example.

It's long past time for the DOJ, and the courts, to make public the thing that we already know about.

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