Friday, January 22, 2010

Times' FOIA request denied

What does one make of this? A refresher:

In the Philadelphia incident, two New Black Panther Party members wearing black berets, black combat boots, black dress shirts and black jackets with military-style markings were charged in a Jan. 7, 2009, civil complaint with intimidating voters, including brandishing a 2-foot-long nightstick and issuing racial threats and insults. The complaint said a third member "managed, directed and endorsed the behavior."

None of the New Black Panther Party members responded to the charges or made any appearance in court.

A Justice Department memo shows the career lawyers decided as early as Dec. 22, 2008, to seek a complaint against the party; its chairman, Malik Zulu Shabazz, a lawyer and D.C. resident; Minister King Samir Shabazz, a resident of Philadelphia and head of the party's Philadelphia chapter who was accused of wielding the nightstick; and Jerry Jackson, a resident of Philadelphia and a party member.

They said the deployment of uniformed members of "a well-known group with an extremely hostile racial agenda, combined with the brandishing of a weapon at the entrance to a polling place," constituted a violation of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits intimidation, threats and coercion.

The defendants refused to appear in court or file motions and U.S. District Judge Stewart Dalzell ordered Justice to file it's motions for default judgments. But that didn't happen. Charges were dropped. Why? The assumption is that it was a political favor, by political appointees at the DOJ. The official line:

Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has steadfastly maintained that the department has an "ongoing obligation" to be sure the claims it makes are supported by the facts and the law.

She said that after a "thorough review" of the complaint, top career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division determined the "facts and the law did not support pursuing the claims against three of the defendants."

Ms. Schmaler also has said the department is "committed to vigorous enforcement of the laws protecting anyone exercising his or her right to vote." [cough cough cough]

Mr. Perrelli, nominated by Mr. Obama to the Justice Department post on Jan. 5, 2009, raised more than $500,000 for the Democratic candidate in the 2008 election.

Mr Perrelli is the fellow who approved the decision to dismiss the complaint. But, don't worry, because they made a "thorough review" and decided there was nothing "there" (despite the videos that clearly show voter intimidation) and, no, you're not going to be able to see any of the information that supports the governments assertion that these folks did NOTHING wrong because ...

In a letter, the department said that while 69 documents totaling 135 pages were responsive to the Freedom of Information Act request for information on how and why the decision to dismiss the complaint was made, they were being withheld because of "deliberative process" and "attorney work-product" privilege exemptions.

"For your information, the withheld material includes e-mails between officials in the Civil Rights Division and the Office of the Associate Attorney General regarding the litigation strategy, drafts of court filings and briefing materials related to the subject of your request," said Carmen L. Mallon, chief of staff in the department's office of information policy.

Some animals' civil rights are more equal than other's ...

h/t : Weaselzippers

BiW draws our attention to this excellent article. I tried to quote a bit, but I simply couldn't pick just one passage. You must read the whole thing.