Firedoglake has this piece on secrecy and democracy. One of the by-products of the Wikileaks Cable release is a discussion of when redactions are appropriate in public documents -- which of course is something everyone associated with the FOIA deal with every day. It is a needed discussion -- and one that hopefully will continue after the latest firestorm abates.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ("CREW") has written to the Attorney General voicing displeasure with his department's failure to heed President Obama's (and Holder's for that matter) call for greater government transparency. CREW complains about the fact that the Department of Justice hasn't practiced open government practices and in some cases, has tried to block others from doing so. [Ed. note -- I represent CREW in a number of matters, but did not participate in the drafting of the letter]
As long time readers of the blog know, I agree with the CREW letter. The status quo for a long time in government has been to look for any reason at all to block the release of information pursuant to FOIA requests. Changing the status quo takes a great deal of very hard work and determination, and more importantly putting strong willed individuals in positions of authority to make transparency happen.
Thus far, despite the intentions of the administration and the Attorney General, the status quo is winning. The losers are, of course, the American public.
The Office of Information Policy of the Department of Justice will host a FOIA Requester Roundtable on December 8, 2010 in Washington, D.C. Registration closes on December 6. More details can be found here.
Briefs of the government, respondent Comptel and a number of amici have been filed in the FOIA case presently before the Supreme Court, FCC v. ATT. The issue is whether FOIA Exemption 7(C) extends personal privacy to corporations. Oral argument is January 19, 2011.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center's Brief ("EPIC") is here.
The Brief of the Project on Government Oversight ("POGO"), the Brechner Center for Freedom of Information and Tax Analysts is here.
The Brief of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (and 22 other media organizations) is here.
The Brief of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington ("CREW"), Electronic Frontier Foundation ("EFF"), ACLU, American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, National Security Archive, and OpentheGovernment.Org is here.
The Brief for the Collabaration on Government Secrecy is here.
Sean Reilly writes in the Federal Times that the agencies, including the Departments of Justice (Holder's very own agency) and Commerce are simply not making discretionary releases and are ignoring the FOIA policy set out by Attorney General Eric Holder.
No, this is not a story from the Onion. It's from Nextgov.com (Thanks to reader Justin M. for finding it).
A White House official says that if you want information from an agency, you should bypass FOIA and just urge the agency to make it available electronically as a pro-active disclosure of information. I agree with all the comments in the article about how rather than doing this, the government should work on making the FOIA work as intended. And as I have said before, a strong leader in FOIA matters should be put into place at the White House overseeing agency FOIA performance on a day to day basis.