Unfortunately, this is just further proof that most of our celebrated institutions, including prestigious palaces of “higher learning,” are nothing more than apologists and gatekeepers for plutocratic power. It was only a little less than two weeks ago that I wrote a story celebrating how a U.S. judge decided the government must release thousands of pages of secret service files on the late Aaron Swartz. Apparently, MIT isn’t comfortable in the many skeletons they likely have in their closet coming out, so they have moved to block the release. The plaintiff in the case, Kevin Poulsen explains below in a Wired article:
Lawyers representing MIT are filing a motion to intervene in my FOIA lawsuit over thousands of pages of Secret Service documents about the late activist and coder Aaron Swartz.
I am the plaintiff in this lawsuit. In February, the Secret Service denied in full my request for any files it held on Swartz, citing a FOIA exemption that covers sensitive law enforcement records that are part of an ongoing proceeding. Other requestors reported receiving the same response.
When the agency ignored my administrative appeal, I enlisted David Sobel, a top DC-based FOIA litigator, and we filed suit. Two weeks ago U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ordered the government to “promptly” begin releasing Swartz’ records. The government told my lawyer that it would release the first batch tomorrow. But minutes ago, Kollar-Kotelly suspended that order at MIT’s urging, to give the university time to make an argument against the release of some of the material.
Secret Service and federal prosecutors pursue felony charges against Swartz for his bulk downloading of academic articles from MIT’s network in 2011.
MIT argues that those people might face threats and harassment if their names become public. But it’s worth noting that names of third parties are already redacted from documents produced under FOIA.
I have never, in fifteen years of reporting, seen a non-governmental party argue for the right to interfere in a Freedom of Information Act release of government documents. My lawyer has been litigating FOIA for decades, and he’s never encountered it either. It’s saddening to see an academic institution set this precedent.
MIT clearly has something to hide that they are very ashamed of. Or more likely, they just don’t want to be caught doing shady things they gladly acquiesced to. I’ll be following this closely.
Full article here.
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