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Re: FoIA Secrecy

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  • Paul Rosa
    Dear T Martin: Could you maybe express your thoughts to the coldwarcomms group as a whole, rather than to individual correspondents, so that all concerned can
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2002
      Dear T Martin:

      Could you maybe express your thoughts to the coldwarcomms group as a whole, rather
      than to individual correspondents, so that all concerned can participate in an open
      and informed dialog. Also, your posting of an op-ed piece by Robert Leger fails to
      inform us as to where this was published. Can you enlighten us as to this
      essential fact? Thanks.

      Paul Rosa

      TMartin831@... wrote:

      > Nov. 24, 2002
      > Robert Leger
      > Editorial Page Editor
      > Senator lies — to protect us, of course
      >
      > I woke up Friday morning listening to a U.S. senator lie through his teeth.
      >
      > Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, was on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition.
      > Host Bob Edwards was asking him about broad new exemptions to the Freedom of
      > Information Act included in the bill creating the Department of Homeland
      > Security.
      >
      > Bennett, without betraying a bit of irony, disagreed with Edwards’ descri
      > ption. The changes, he said, did not gut the freedom of information law but
      > improved it. There was no substantive difference, he said, between this
      > language and a Senate compromise he agreed to during the summer.
      >
      > Has he read the bill?
      >
      > Bennett’s colleague, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who helped broker the
      > more-narrowly-written summer compromise, called this the “most severe
      > weakening of the Freedom of Information Act in its 36-year history.” He was
      > right.
      >
      > The Freedom of Information Act guarantees citizens’ access to most government
      > documents — and thus, the ability to hold their leaders accountable.
      > Government officials don’t like the law; they have become experts at dragging
      > their feet for years before responding to a request. But, eventually, a
      > citizen could get much of the information he or she wanted.
      >
      > The bill that Bennett calls an improvement will make that harder. It closes
      > any “information” — not merely records — about critical infrastructure
      > voluntarily shared with any federal agency, not just the Homeland Security
      > Department.
      >
      > It makes that information off-limits for any civil action. If a company’s
      > negligence led to a chemical leak, but the company uses the law to
      > voluntarily report information about the leak as a critical infrastructure
      > issue, that information is off-limits to people in the community. They can
      > never know how this company put their lives at risk.
      >
      > And if a conscientious government employee, recognizing that the law was
      > being abused, leaked information to a reporter? The employee could spend up
      > to a year in jail.
      >
      > U.S. law does not treat leaks of defense information as a criminal act, nor
      > should it. But leaks of business information will now be a crime. We have our
      > priorities.
      >
      > And Bennett has the gall to tell us this is an improvement in the law, that
      > Americans will be better protected. From what? Knowledge? The law adopts as
      > American policy the proposition that ignorance is bliss.
      >
      > “Homeland security” has elbowed in on God, mom and apple pie. Let a
      > president, an attorney general or a senator utter those words, and vile
      > proposals are suddenly gilded in gold.
      >
      > Some small amount of critical infrastructure information should be kept
      > confidential. But the bill that Bennett defends goes far beyond that. It is a
      > gift to industry, a get-out-of-jail-free card. It is an assault on basic
      > American principles.
      >
      > Perhaps Bennett and those who speak like him in Washington truly believe we
      > have to sacrifice that which makes America special in order to save America.
      > That thought frightens me far more than any terrorist attack can.
      >
      > Source: The Springfield News-Ledger
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