New York Congressman presses Department of Justice to answer Freedom of Information Act request
U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley (D-NY) wrote a letter to the staff of the U.S. Department of Justice, requesting that the agency answer a Freedom of Information Act request submitted last year.
The FOIA request was submitted on 30 April 2013 to obtain information about the Department of Justice's policy of aggressively prosecuting activists. One activist in particular, Lt. Daniel Choi, who led the charge to over turn the military's discriminatory policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," was the target of a "vindictive prosecution," according to a court finding. A pattern of others being targeted for their activism shows that some federal prosecutors may be overreaching in a deliberate campaign to punish activists.
Lt. Choi's circumstances very visibly highlight questions about why the government chose to press federal charges against one of the nation's most visible LGBT civil rights activists. Lt. Choi's activism, sometimes involving direct action, was undertaken to end the military's discrimination against gays and lesbians in the U.S. Armed Forces. After the U.S. Congress acknowledged the harmful discrimination of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and repealed the policy, and after President Barack Obama signed the repeal into law, the government still prosecuted Lt. Choi as if he were a criminal, even though his activism was undertaken solely to advance social justice. Rep. Crowley's crucial letter to the Department of Justice comes as the FOIA request remains pending over nine months after its initial, formal filing. In December, the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP filed an appeal in support of the FOIA request after it had become apparent that the Department of Justice had constructively denied the FOIA request by refusing to provide any response.
Here is the appeal filed in December by Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP :
And here is the original FOIA request, formally filed last April :