Friday, July 31, 2009

Judge Denied Fox Network's FOIA Request

A federal judge said no to Fox News Network's request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for documents detailing which companies received how much money under what programs from the Federal Reserve. According to the U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan federal court, they are "trade secrets".

UPDATE 1-U.S. judge rules for Fed in Fox News Network request (7/30/09 Reuters)

"NEW YORK, July 30 (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday denied a bid by Fox News Network LLC seeking details from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve about the central bank's loans to companies affected by the financial crisis."

The judge ruled ONE document in favor of Fox News:

""I rule that one document, which the Board determined is not a record, is indeed, a record. The Board shall identify this document and either produce it or claim an exemption," Hellerstein said in a written order.

""In all other respects, I grant the Board's motion and deny Fox's motion, finding that the Board performed an adequate search and that Exemption 4 permits the Board not to disclose the documents that Fox seeks.""

"Under Exemption 4 of the FOIA, an agency must demonstrate that the information sought is a "trade secret" or "commercial or financial" in character and "obtained from a person" and "privileged and confidential.""

Trade secrets. That's rich. Against overwhelming opposition from the taxpayers, the bank bailout bill was passed, the taxpayers foot the bill, and the Fed spends it as it sees fit and we are supposed to just trust them. Chairman Bernanke himself doesn't know where the money's gone in the numerous currency swap lines he has opened with central banks around the world, but we are to trust him. Nowhere in the Federal Reserve's balance sheet are the transactions under numerous lending programs detailed.

Come to think about it, it is the definition of a bank - take someone's money and lend it to someone else. So the Federal Reserve, the central bank for the U.S., is after all nothing but another commercial bank. The difference: people hand the deposits to commercial banks on their own free will, while the Federal Reserve bank just takes money whether the depositors (taxpayers) like it or not.


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