POGO has this update on the Grassley Amendment to the Farm Bill. According to POGO, voting on the amendment was postponed before the Senate adjourned for Memoria Day, largely due to the intervention of Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt). The amendment will be taken up again after the Senate returns from its Memorial Day recess in early June.
The Sunshine in Government Blog reports on Sen. Charles Grassley's (R-IA) attempt to amend the latest version of the farm bill with language specifically exempting basic phone directory information of livestock owners and operators from disclosure. According to the amendment's backers its a defense against domestic terrorism.
I haven't heard of much domestic terrorism against farmers, I wish Grassley would expand upon that one. I really believe the amendment is more of a war on transparency.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has ruled that a lower court ruling that the Osama Bin Laden death photos are properly classified and exempt from release under the FOIA. The opinion can be found here.
Forget about the IRS -- a real scandal in the bureacracy is that it took the CDC five years to process a FOIA request. The request concerns lyme disease and according to the requester embarrases the agency and its actions towards the disease.
If Congress really cared about transparency they'd call these folks up to the Hill for a discussion of its actions on the snail's pace they took to process these records.
Last week at the American Society of Access Professionals I was honored to present the ASAP President's Award to Miriam Nisbet, the Director of the Office of Government Information Services ("OGIS") and the Director's Award to the Public Interest Declassification Board ("PIDB"). Both OGIS and the PIDB are components of the National Archives and Records Administration and the awards were highlighted on the agency's blog.
One of the latest trends in the FOIA is the problems associated with searching emails. I don't know anything about this company, but thought that this press release was interesting as the company is providing its email archiving solution free to local and state governments -- I understand that its sort of like buying a wheel for a car without the car, but nevertheless I am glad to know that the private sector is working on solutions to the problems of retention of emails. The press release can be found here (I am not endorsing this product or company).
The Blog of the Legal Times has this article on the DOJ's brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asking the court to uphold a lower court ruling that allowed it to protect OLC memos. Plaintiff and amici in this case have argued that allowing the lower court ruling to stand would allow the government to protect memos that are actually secret law -- which FOIA caselaw says must be released. No date has been given for oral argument in the case.
The Marine Corps has released a number of documents to Bloomberg News about Beyonce's decision to lip synch the National Anthem at the most recent presidential inaguration. However, if you were from Mars you wouldn't know who Beyonce was because the Marine Corps, in order to protect Beyonce's privacy, withheld her name under FOIA Exemption 6.
Obviously, more FOIA training is needed for those processing FOIA requests as there is no need to protect Beyonce's privacy in this case -- for those wanting privacy, the American Society of Access Professionals is holding its National Training Conference in just two weeks -- sign up here [ed. note - I'm ASAP's current President].
The Supreme Court has found that the requirement that requests made under the State of Virginia FOIA may only be made by citizens of the State is constitutional. It is unclear if this finding applies to all states that have the requirement as the discussion of the constitutionality of the law was specific only to the Virginia law but cert was taken because the Delaware law had previously been found unconstitutional by the Third Circuit.