Policy and News Updates for October 13, 2004

 We apologize for the break in our updates last week. We will resume weekly delivery at its usual time on Tuesdays starting next week.

 Look for the OpenTheGovernment.org advertisement in the print edition of the Washington Post today opposite the Federal Page.

 Email your tips and updates to info@openthegovernment.org

 Policy Updates

Patriot Act: Freedom to Read Protection Act

House Republicans, under strong pressure from the White House, narrowly defeated an amendment that would restrict the government's ability to seize library and bookseller records under the Patriot Act.

The White House threatened a veto, as it believes the law is important as an anti-terrorism tool. Libraries, booksellers, civil liberties groups, and other public interest organizations have voiced strong concern over Section 215 of the Patriot Act which"gives the FBI virtually unlimited access to... bookstore and library records."

Indian Affairs FOIA Exemption

Section 7 of S. 297, the Federal Acknowledgment Process Reform Act of 2003 exempts certain actions by the Interior Department's Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Several groups and individuals voiced objections to a Senate Bureau of Indian Affairs reform bill, in a letter delivered to Sens. Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) July 8.

DHS Environmental Procedures Promote Secrecy

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to hide Environmental Impact Statements (EIS), partially or in whole, from public disclosure. A June 14 directive published in the Federal Register would exempt the agency from a number of requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The directive applies to all agencies within DHS including the Transportation Security Administration, Energy Security and Assurance Program, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Coast Guard.