by Irvin Muchnick
by Irvin Muchnick
As reported at the link above, on January 27 we submitted to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson a Freedom of Information Act request for the immigration files on George Gibney, whose flight from the court of public opinion has taken him from Ireland to Scotland to Colorado to California to Florida.
I received an almost immediate response from Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Two almost immediate responses, in fact.
In the first response, a letter dated February 5 and signed by Jill A. Eggleston, director of FOIA operations, USCIS informed me that the request had been denied on privacy grounds. The letter went on to state that the only exception would be “A clear demonstration that the public interest in disclosure outweighs the personal privacy interest(s) of the individual(s) and that significant public benefit would result from the disclosure of the public records.” On that basis, I began assembling resources for an appeal, which must be filed within 60 days.
Yesterday, however, I was stopped in my tracks by a second letter from Eggleston, dated February 10. In that one, USCIS said the Gibney document request had been “placed in the complex track (Track 2)” for fulfillment. According to information at the USCIS website:
“Track 2 is for more complex cases. A complete copy of a file, requests from the news media, or special interest groups are examples of Track 2 cases. If we receive a request for specific documents which implies most of the file (for instance, ‘the asylum application and all supporting documents,’) we will assign the request to the complex track.”
USCIS has a status check search engine. As of this morning, the Gibney request registered as “number 125 of 139 pending requests in Track Two.”
Other information at the site suggests that Track 2 requests currently take an average of 53 business days.
Seeking clarification, I exchanged emails with Deon T. Austin, the designated information specialist at the National Records Center in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. I wanted to know which letter was operative: the first notice of denial or the second notice that USCIS was working on the request.
Austin wrote back within minutes. He advised me to disregard the first notice. Our request was initially “closed improperly.” Austin went on:
“[Y]ou have requested information related to another individual and you do not have the consent of that individual to release information from their file, we will treat your request as a Third Party request.
In a Third Party request we can only release information that may be publically available and no personal identifiable information related to the subject of the request can be released.
Currently we are in the process of locating the information you have requested.
When we receive information related to George Gibney we will review the information for disclosure and respond to you with our final determination.”
In an effort to bring about a good result sooner than later, Concussion Inc. has been reaching out to activists and journalists here and abroad, and to interested members of the U.S. Congress. Shortly, we will have more on that, and more on the movements of George Gibney in this country. There is also a grim recent update from Ireland: the probable suicide of one of his abuse victims.