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FOUO and FOIA: Two Letters (Should) Make All the Difference

In 2010 transparency advocates welcomed an important new Executive Order that promised to phase out the use of confusing stamps like For Official Use Only (FOUO) and make sure that such markings were not used by agencies to deny the public access to information. However, as Patrice McDermott testified before a House subcommittee this week, intransigence and resistance from some agencies has drawn out the process so that it will be 2018, 2019 and beyond before agencies stop using these stamps. And, as we learned from a story posted by Jason Leopold on the Guardian earlier this week, the public is still not seeing the benefits that should have begun almost immediately. What should the government do to make sure agencies are not using the delay in implementation to keep information from the public?

Groups Support Schiff-Jones Drone Transparency Amendment

Today the House Rules Committee will decide which proposed amendments to the National Intelligence Authorization Act will be considered on the House floor. OpenTheGovernment.org and 18 other human rights, civil liberties and pro-transparency groups have written a letter to Congress in support of a bipartisan amendment by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) requiring annual reports on the number of militants and civilians killed in drone strikes. 

Testimony: Controlled Unclassified Information

On May 29th, 2014 Executive Director Patrice McDermott testified before the Subcommittee on Government Operations of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Her testimony addressed the growing use of the unclassified designation of information in executive branch departments and agencies.

Partners Release Model FOIA Regulations

Last week several OTG partners released a “model FOIA regulation” in advance of the launch of an effort by the Office of Information Policy (OIP) at the Department of Justice to develop a common FOIA regulation that all agencies can adopt. As you may know, each of the 99 agencies that process FOIA requests have a FOIA regulation that explains in detail how the agency implements the law, and what requesters must do to have their request processed.

Open Government Town Hall Tomorrow on May 28

Join OTG at an Open Government Community Town Hall from 12 to 2pm ET on Wednesday, May 28th. Attendees will have the opportunity to share their organization’s activities and reconnect with other partners in the community. Rick Blum of the Sunshine in Government Initiative will kick things off with an overview of the FOIA Files, an interactive resource of journalism made possible by the Freedom of Information Act.

House Passes Hollowed-Out Version of USA FREEDOM Act

Last week, OpenTheGovernment.org and thirteen other organizations wrote to the House leadership and asked them to restore the government transparency provisions of the original USA FREEDOM Act in order to “to verify that the NSA actually ends bulk collection instead of finding new loopholes to exploit.” Instead, House leadership engaged in closed-door negotiations with the intelligence community, and introduced new loopholes into the bill’s priv

The Barron Nomination and the Second Circuit Drone Case

The Obama Administration has not yet announced whether it will appeal a recent Second Circuit order to disclose an Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) on the legal justification for the killing of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki.

Groups Urge Restoration of USA Freedom Act Transparency Provisions

OpenTheGovernment.org and thirteen other organizations wrote to the House and Senate leadership yesterday, asking them to restore the USA FREEDOM Act’s government transparency provisions before final passage of the bill. The letter concludes, “[w]e recognize that some compromises were necessary to move any surveillance bill to the floor. But they increase the importance of restoring the transparency provisions of the original USA FREEDOM Act, to verify that the NSA actually ends bulk collection instead of finding new loopholes to exploit.

Groups Call on Holder to Follow Court Order, be Open about Targeted Killing Program

Thirty organizations representing a broad range of interests have joined to urge Attorney General Holder to decline to appeal a recent federal court ruling that would provide the public with critical information about the legal analysis underpinning the targeted killing program.

Revised USA FREEDOM Act Lacks Transparency and Strong Special Advocate

A weakened version of the USA Freedom Act unanimously passed through the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and reportedly was approved today by the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence—clearing the way for the bill to be debated on the House Floor. But the bill omits critical government reporting requirements included in the original USA FREEDOM Act as introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wisconsin) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont).

The Classified Section

Check out our new blog, The Classified Section, for analysis of national security secrecy.

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