I feel good about bringing this story to your attention. James Brown's FBI file was recently released to rock journalist Phyliss Pollack and in this month's Rock and Rap confidential, there is an interesting analysis of the singer's FBI file.
Last Fall, I discussed the Washington Post's lawsuit in which the Post tried to get VP Cheney's Visitor logs. For some reason that has never been revealed by the Post, it dismissed the lawsuit without reaching a final conclusion on whether it was entitled to the logs under the FOIA.
However, the issue is not dead, as others have filled the void for the Post. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ("CREW") has recently filed a lawsuit for similar information from the VP. [note--I do some work for CREW, but have not participated in this case.] The AP is reporting that CREW has learned that a lawyer for the VP told the Secret Service to elimate this data and that it was covered by the Presidential Records Act, not the FOIA.
Sooner or later, all of the questions on visitor logs and the FOIA may be answered. Stay tuned.
As discussed last week, there is a secret hold on the FOIA legislation pending in the Senate. However, a number of groups are now mobilizing and attempting to figure out who placed the secret hold on the legislation; once it is figured out, I would guess that the secret Senator will be lobbied to release the hold.
For more information on the attempt to discover who has the secret hold on legislation, please see here and here.
Public Citizen is reporting that there is a secret hold on the FOIA legislation pending in the Senate. Public Citizen says this is ironic, in that the disclosure law legislation is being held up secretly. I think its worse than ironic, its an indictment of the way a democratic system has been abused by Senators too afraid to state opposition to matters publicly.
As I wrote in my earlier post today, the bill isn't perfect and I'd like it to be changed. But I'd like to see it done above board and on the record. If there is a problem a Senator has with the bill, he or she should state so publicly during debate on the bill. If the Senator can not do that, he or she should simply notify his or her state's governor that they aren't up to the responsibilities of being a Senator and resign.
The Sunshine Group, a coalition of 10 media groups that make up the Sunshine in Government Initiative has urged Sen. Majority leader Harry Reid (D. NV) to pass the Senate's FOIA Amendment Bill (s. 849) by Memorial Day.
While I am in favor of amending the FOIA and bringing it into the 21st Century, I'd rather see the Senate hold real hearings on items in the bill and come up with something that will realistically help the FOIA. I fear that the Senate's FOIA amendments and those previously passed by the House will do little but create a new bureacracy for FOIA and create questions that federal courts will have to decide. Further, I'd like to see agency FOIA operations funded on a yearly basis by an act of Congress, therefore making it hard for agencies to not fund their FOIA offices and create backlogs of requests.
NASA has posted its Near Earth-Object Survey and Deflection Study on its electronic FOIA reading room page. As expected, critics have posted their objections to the study. As for me, I'm comfortable waiting for Bruce Willis to put a space suit on a save the day.
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) has issued these FOIA regulations for making requests to it. The PCLOB is a part of the White House that is covered by the FOIA. The regulations go into effect on May 25, 2007. The PCLOB was set up pursuant to the the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Actof 2004.
The PCLOB was recently in the news when one of its five members, Democrat Lanny Davis resigned over changes the White House made to a PCLOB report.
It is being reported that movie maker Michael Moore has made a FOIA request to the Treasury Department for all records on Treasury's investigation of Moore's trip to Cuba. I for one would love to see a movie from Moore on FOIA requests! My prediction is Treasury will deny the records, claiming exemption 7(A) for a pending investigation.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) has filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking documents on all records of NSA warrantless wiretapping of certain attorneys representing men detained at Guantánamo. The lawsuit, entitled Wilner v. NSA, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. More information on this suit can be found here.