Judicial Watch submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on Jan. 3 this year to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the bank's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and the European Central Bank seeking documents related to a Nov. 30, 2011, currency swap extension that virtually overnight boosted U.S. loans under the obscure program from $400 million to $95 billion.
The extension effectively restarted a program initiated in 2007 that was described by board chairman Ben Bernanke as a "temporary U.S. dollar liquity swap arrangement" intended to help the European financial crisis. It expired in February 2010. The Nov. 30 action was based on the Fed's decision to renew the program through 2013.
Judicial Watch, a non-partisan, non-profit advocacy group that used the FOIA and the federal court system to defend and advance transparency and accountability in government, said it sought "records describing the justification for extending the currency swap program, as well as individual details regarding each swap transaction."
Federal law requires that FOIA responses be acknowledged within 20 days of receipt, which the board and FOMC did, but Judicial Watch has heard nothing from either since February 1. So the group filed a federal suit yesterday seeking to compel the federal government's central bank to cough up the documents so the public can learn what's being done with its dollars.
"Chairman Bernanke can dress it up in whatever language he chooses, but these 'currency swaps' are nothing more than massive bailouts of European banks. That we have to sue to get basic information about this massive bailout speaks volumes about the dubious nature of this under the radar program," said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton.
The suit was filed earlier this week in the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia.
Mark Tapscott is executive editor of The Washington Examiner.