A Special Sneak Preview of the 2013 Secrecy Report – September 3, 2013 Newsletter

In This Issue:
News from Coalition Partners & Others
I. A Special Sneak Preview of the 2013 Secrecy Report

News from Coalition Partners & Others

NFOIC Announces Major FOIA Win for National Security Counselors

National Security Counselors scored a victory for openness last week when U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) cannot use an over-broad interpretation of the CIA Act of 1949 to avoid disclosures under the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The case, which may still be appealed, is supported by the Knight FOI Fund, a legal war chest administered by the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) to support litigants in meritorious open-government cases. Learn more from the NFOIC’s announcement here.

CREW Files for Release of OLC Memos

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed suit against the Department of Justice last week for not making opinions by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) available to the public. The suit argues that the OLC opinions, which often include authoritative interpretations of the law, are required to be made public under the provision of the FOIA that requires the government to publish “final opinions” and “statements of policy which have been adopted by the agency.” See CREW’s announcement here.

I. A Special Sneak Preview of the 2013 Secrecy Report

Be on the lookout for the upcoming release of the latest version of our Secrecy Report. As regular readers may know, this report includes multi-year tracking and analysis of indicators of openness and secrecy in the federal government. Among the indicators included in the report are: national intelligence spending, responses to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, classification and declassification, and more.

This year’s report will also include an explanation of how some of the revelations made as a result of documents leaked by Edward Snowden throw serious doubt on the validity and meaningfulness of the numbers the government releases about the size and scope of surveillance programs. It will also include what we now understand to be the possible breadth and scope of the National Security Agency’s communications surveillance programs as a result of these leaks.

Additionally, this year’s report will include a special section outlining specific steps the Administration should take to kick-start a real move towards openness. Similar to results from our prior years’ Secrecy Report, this year’s will show that, while there has been some reduction in secrecy in the federal government, the change is slow. The steps included in our special section are targeted at creating rapid change that would translate into a more open, efficient, and accountable government.