Re: FoIA Secrecy
- 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.
> Nov. 24, 2002
> Robert Leger
> Editorial Page Editor
> Senator lies â 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 Radioâs 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
> Bennett, without betraying a bit of irony, disagreed with Edwardsâ 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?
> Bennettâs colleague, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who helped broker the
> more-narrowly-written summer compromise, called this the âmost severe
> weakening of the Freedom of Information Act in its 36-year history.â He was
> The Freedom of Information Act guarantees citizensâ access to most government
> documents â and thus, the ability to hold their leaders accountable.
> Government officials donât 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 âinformationâ â not merely records â about critical infrastructure
> voluntarily shared with any federal agency, not just the Homeland Security
> It makes that information off-limits for any civil action. If a companyâs
> 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
> 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.
> âHomeland securityâ 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