DHS Interrogates NY Times Reporters At Border, Then Denies Having Any Records About Them
from the right,-sure dept
Thought it was just officials at UK airports detaining and interrogating journalists? According to a new lawsuit from two NY Times reporters, they were also pulled aside and interrogated by Homeland Security officials multiple times concerning their own reporting efforts. The two reporters, Mac William Bishop and Christopher Chivers were apparently pulled out for special interrogation at JFK.
Among other things, Plaintiffs seek records used or created by DHS employees in respect to the questioning of Plaintiffs at JFK Airport earlier this year. Plaintiffs were subject to segregated questioning by DHS employees at JFK on May 24, 2013, as they prepared to board an international flight for a work assignment as journalists. Subsequently, on June 6, 2013, Mr. Bishop was subjected to further segregated questioning by DHS employees at JFK as he returned to the United States.
Given this, the two journalists filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests on records pertaining to themselves… and got back absolutely nothing. After playing hot potato with the FOIA requests between different DHS agencies, the reporters basically got back messages saying that there were no records on either.
On September 27, 2013, ICE denied the Bishop Request. ICE reported in a “final response” that the unite had conducted a search and found no responsive documents.
On October 28, 2013, Mr. Bishop appealed ICE’s denial. In his appeal letter, Mr. Bishop said it was “inconceivable that DHS has no records pertaining to [him]” as someone who is “a frequent international traveler.” He pointed out that on June 6, 2013 he had answered questions for DHS employees in a private room at JFK, and those answers were recorded on a computer.
On November 18, 2013, ICE denied Mr. Bishop’s administrative appeal, finding that the agency had done an adequate search.
As for the TSA, that unit of DHS informed Mr. Bishop by letter on July 31, 2013 that his “request was too broad in scope.” TSA required more information before processing the request.
On August 9, 2013, Mr. Bishop, through counsel, responded by letter. He restated the initial request and asserted that no legal authority supports the proposition that TSA could simply refuse to do the search.
More than two months later, on October 23, 2013, TSA told Mr. Bishop’s counsel that it could not find the August 9, 2013 letter. Counsel subsequently provided a new copy of the letter and additional information about the June 6, 2013 questioning at JFK. There has been no further response from TSA.
Remember how Eric Holder insisted that the feds weren’t going to keep intimidating journalists? Yeah, right.