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Broad Coalition of Organizations Sign on in Support of FOIA Improvement Act of 2014

Fifty organizations representing a broad range of interests and crossing the political spectrum expressed support for the recently-introduced FOIA Improvement Act of 2014, S. 2520. The bill was introduced earlier this week by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), who have a long history of working together to develop and pass legislation that makes the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) a better tool for the public to obtain government records.

OpenTheGovernment.org Welcomes Leahy-Cornyn Bill to Improve FOIA

OpenTheGovernment.org strongly supports the FOIA Improvement Act of 2014, a bill introduced by longtime champions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy and Senator Cornyn. The bill addresses a number of issues that members of our coalition have identified as obstacles to the public’s ability to use the FOIA to get timely access to government records.

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

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).

Statement on SSCI Vote for Declassification of Torture Report

OpenTheGovernment.org applauds the members and staff of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) for today’s bipartisan vote to begin declassification of the Committee’s Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. We urge the President to fulfill his promise to swiftly declassify the material that the committee has submitted for declassification review. In order for that review to be meaningful, the President must ensure that the CIA abandons its prior position that the details of individual detainees’ torture are classified “sources and methods,” and abandons any attempt to interfere with the committee’s oversight.

"We hope that today’s vote marks the first step towards declassification of the full SSCI report, and the beginning of the end of more than a decade of excessive secrecy about torture," said Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of OpenTheGovernment.org. "The American people have a right to know what their government does in their name."

Time for Answers on Domestic Spying Program

The recent news that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) ordered Verizon to turn over to the National Security Agency the mass collection of telephone call logs generated by millions of Verizon customers likely comes as a shock for many Americans. While officials within all three branches of our government signed off on or were briefed on the program, the public has been left completely in the dark about the scope and the extent of the government’s domestic spying.

Unprecedented Civil Society Report on US OGP: One Small Step for Open Government

The US met most of its 2011 commitments to make the government more open and accountable according to an unprecedented evaluation of the US’ efforts to implement its first National Action Plan. President Obama presented the US’s commitments at the launch of the Open Government Partnership on September 20, 2011.

While the Plan reflected many of the priorities of open government advocates, the specific commitments included in the plan do not put the US on a path to accomplish those goals quickly. According to Patrice McDermott, Executive Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, “The Administration should be commended for taking good first, if often small, steps forward on a number of issues. Achieving the greater goal of transforming government to be open and accountable to the public, though, will require the proverbial giant leap.”

OUT with Secrecy and IN with Sunshine

Transparency advocates with the OpenTheGovernment.org coalition recommend a list of federal government practices that should be “Out,” and what should be “In.” Despite an increased focus on open government by the Executive branch over the last few years, some of the federal government’s actions continue to hinder the public from having an informed understanding of what the government is doing and why.

Presidential Policy Directive Supports Whistleblowers, Good Sign for Open and Accountable Government

Yesterday the White House took a significant step towards fostering open and accountable government and fulfilling the promise of the Open Government Partnership by issuing a historic Presidential Policy Directive on Whistleblower Protections. The Open Government Partnership is an international effort to make more open, effective, and accountable.

The Classified Section

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

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