Reporters want to ensure they weren’t “having their activities monitored by the government”Adan Salazar
The Department of Homeland Security is being sued by two New York Times reporters who say the agency failed to respond to FOIA requests following enhanced interrogations at New York’s JFK airport.
Times journalists Mac William Bishop and Christopher Chivers were on their way to Turkey to cover the Syrian civil war when they claim they were “subject to segregated questioning by DHS employees at JFK on May 24, 2013,” a lawsuit obtained by Courthouse News states.
“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.”
Bishop and Chivers both filed FOIA requests to determine why they were detained. The DHS responded claiming they sent the requests to both the Immigration & Customs Enforcement agency and the TSA, however the reporters’ lawsuit states they “haven’t heard Word One,” according to Courthouse News.
Bishop, in an appeal letter sent to the TSA, said this was “inconceivable” due to the fact that he’s “a frequent international traveler.”
In the same letter, Bishop also claimed he physically witnessed his information being entered into a computer “in a private room at JFK,” but TSA says they lost that letter. “He sent it a copy of the letter through counsel, but that didn’t work either,” reported Courthouse News.
David McCraw, one of the attorneys representing The New York Times Company, says the reporters just want to see the FOIA requests to ensure they weren’t “targeted by DHS for special scrutiny.”
“We want to be sure that our journalists are not being targeted by DHS for special scrutiny or having their activities monitored by the government when they are engaged in reporting,” McCraw said in a statement to Politico. “DHS has failed to provide adequate responses to our FOIA requests seeking whatever information DHS employees were working from in initiating the questioning and whatever information they gathered in the questioning. That led to this lawsuit.”
The alleged detainment fits a pattern of abuse aimed at journalists by the Obama administration.
In a recent interview with MSNBC, White House reporter Bob Franken accused the Obama administration of being the “most hostile” in U.S. History towards press freedom.
American journalist Leonard Downie Jr., in a 30-page analysis, also said the Obama administration is having a chilling effect on journalism due to his perceived war on whistleblowers and leaks.