Big win for transparency 

A federal appeals court has ordered the secretive Federal Reserve Board to release records relating to the $2.14 trillion bank bailout requested by Bloomberg News under the Freedom of Information Act filed in 2008. Bloomberg was seeking the names of firms that received TARP funds or assets that were being used as collateral.

FOIA requires federal agencies to hand over government documents on request. But the Fed refused, claiming an exemption in the law protecting confidential financial data permitted it to withhold the information because releasing it would cause bailed-out lenders “severe and irreparable competitive injury.”

U.S. Circuit Judge Dennis Jacobs, chief of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Manhattan, found “no basis” for the Fed’s refusal to release the requested documents in the FOIA law, agreeing with Bloomberg lawyers that the public has a compelling right to know about the “unprecedented and highly controversial use” of tax dollars.

This is a  huge win for advocates of sunshine in all government activities.

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Michael Daboll

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