MSNBC is reporting that President Obama has signed the bill that exempts the detainee photo battle from release under the photo. There is good and bad in this. In my opinion, the bad is that the photos that demonstrate government misconduct aren't released to the public. The good is the Supreme Court doesn't get the chance to broaden exemption 7(F) and that the underlying opinions ruling that these photos aren't exempt under the FOIA pursuant to the exemptions tried by the government stand and can be applied to different situations (which I hope, as an American do not occur).
OMB Watch has this article highlighting the Office of Government Information Services Director's plans for the Office. Better known as the FOIA Ombudsman, Miriam Nisbet is reaching out to the FOIA community as she starts the Office which is a component of the National Archives and Records Administration. Today, she is speaking at a luncheon with the American Society of Access Professionals ("ASAP").
Both CBS News and the Washington Times have articles complaining about FOIA requests and the lack of access granted by various agencies. I can't argue with the fact that agencies mishandled these requests. It would, however, be nice to see the old media using the FOIA more often and reporting on these things on a much more frequent basis. For instance, the only way the State Department, which is woefully slow in responding to FOIA requests is going to fix this problem is by having the spotlight put on them by a media company that has thousands of readers on a constant basis. And finally, while I know it makes good copy, President Obama actually doesn't process FOIA requests nor does he supervise the FOIA process. He set the standard, one that his employees, both political and career are not, in many cases, living up to.
The Department of Justice has announced that the National Archives and Records Administration's Office of Government Information Services is now up and running. The Office, better known as the FOIA Ombudsman's Office created by Congress in 2007 has a website at http://www.archives.gov/ogis/.
The Washington Post reports on a FOIA request by the National Security Archive seeking a list of the music played to detainees at Guantanamo Bay. A group of musicians have signed a letter on behalf of the request.
This of course prompts me to ask, what music would cause you to feel tortured? I'll go first -- If you played anything by Journey, I would give up every secret I have within five seconds.
The Washington Post has this editorial on the Fed and its ongoing FOIA lawsuit with Bloomberg. I think they come out on behalf of the plaintiff in the FOIA lawsuit, but after numerous readings of the editorial, I'm still not quite sure.
Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press has this on the ongoing saga for White House Visitor Records. Judicial Watch's request for all visitor records since the start of the Obama administration has been denied with the Secret Service taking the old Bush company line that the records aren't subject to the FOIA--a position already shot down by a federal court. Judicial Watch says it will press on and the White House, as a result of the settlement of a different case, will begin posting select visitor records in December.
According to this press release from the American Small Business League, the Department of Justice has dropped an appeal of an order granting legal fees to the ASBL in a FOIA case that the ASBL brought against the Small Business Administration.
On October 21, 2009, the D.C. Open Government Coalition will host a discussion about getting access to government information in the District of Columbia. The panel will include moderator Colbert I. Kingof the Washington Post, former D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson, Lucy Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Bill Myers from the Examiner, Mark SegravesfromWTOP Radio, Ed Lazerefrom the D.C. Fiscal Policy Institute, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, and others. They will discuss how D.C. compares with other cities and states, the success stories, the roadblocks and the next steps for improving public access to government information in D.C.A public discussion will follow the panel.