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November 18, 2012

NOAA cop video draws fire in D.C.

NOAA has released a video and an essay on the Office of Law Enforcement website touting its value to the nation and the fishing industry by ensuring “a level playing field” — even as the agency continued to suppress a $500,000 addendum to a special judicial master’s report on abuses of the badge carried out against commercial fishermen in Gloucester and across the Northeast.

The 66-case study by Special Master Charles B. Swartwood III was completed and delivered to the office of then Commerce Secretary John Bryson last March, but still has not been made public.

In late September, after Bryson was found unconscious behind the wheel of his car in suburban Los Angeles and resigned from the cabinet, a spokeswoman for Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank said she had asked her staff to “gather more information regarding issues identified” in the 554-page report by Swartwood.

But since then, numerous queries to Blank, Cameron Kerry — general counsel for the department and the brother of U.S. Sen. John Kerry — NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and her chief counsel Lois Schiffer have been ignored.

Congressman John Tierney and Sen.Scott Brown last Friday reacted with fury to the continued suppression of the Swartwood report and the law enforcement video.

Sen. Kerry’s office also reported pressuring the Commerce Department to release the report. A spokesman for Kerry said “we believe” the report will be made public “very soon.”

Yet another series of queries from the Times last week to top officials at Commerce and its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was again ignored.

”The Congressman spoke to the White House (Thursday) for the sole purpose of pressing for the immediate release of Swartwood II and demanding that they – at a bare minimum – provide a hard deadline for when it will be released,” said Tierney’s spokeswoman Karthryn Prael. “This is outrageous.”

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