by Irvin Muchnick
Without comment, the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services today denied our administrative appeal of the agency’s decision to withhold, without targeted redactions, 98 pages of the 102-page file of George Gibney’s visa and green card records.
On May 21, we published my appeal letter. (And complete headline links to our entire Gibney series are at the bottom of this post. Gibney, who resigned as Irish national swim team coach in the face of dozens of allegations of sexual molestation of swimmers he supervised, moved to the U.S. in the mid-1990s. Spurred by Irish journalists and a member of the legislature, there is a renewed effort to reopen a national police investigation of Gibney and seek his extradition to face charges that were detailed in late nineties fact-finding report directed by a High Court justice.)
The next step for Concussion Inc. is federal court. In light of a recent ruling by the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in a Freedom of Information Act request by the Union Leader newspaper in Manchester, New Hampshire (which actually led to the release of even more extensive types of information than I am requesting), I am confident that USCIS will be found here to have abused its discretion in withholding the Gibney documents in their entirety.
I have retained San Francisco Bay Area attorney Roy S. Gordet to represent me in this matter. Roy is an outstanding lawyer who, in 1999, worked with me at the Federal District Court and Oakland’s First Amendment Project on a case that eventually went to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The result was the negotiated release of a memorandum by the Arthur Andersen accounting firm in the settlement of a class-action copyright lawsuit on which I had consulted. In turn, that document would prove instrumental in the crafting of objections I spearheaded in a global copyright settlement on behalf of freelance journalists, which reached the Supreme Court in 2009 under the name Reed Elsevier v. Muchnick and settled last year.
The federal government has a FOIA mediation service called the Office of Government Information Services. We may avail ourselves of that office to clarify technical points and to see if USCIS will budge from its position that, essentially, all Gibney immigration records, even in redacted form, are exempt from public disclosure due to privacy concerns. However, our possible use of UGIS does not preclude simultaneously litigating in Federal District Court, which appears to be where this case is heading.
THE GIBNEY SERIES: