Recently, the Department of Justice (DOJ) decided to not bring criminal charges against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the destruction of federal records: videotapes of the torture of detainees at CIA black sites. The destruction of these records is a clear violation of the Federal Records Act, which DOJ should have pursued. The decision to date to give the CIA a free-pass is antithetical to DOJ’s mission to enforce the law of the land, and sends the wrong message to agencies that may have information that, if released, would be embarrassing or reveal illegal activities.
Not all of our leaders in the federal government are willing to stand by, though. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) launched an early investigation into the issue, which was put on hold for the DOJ. NARA has indicated that they will re-start their investigation in light of DOJ’s failure to take the lead. Join us in thanking NARA for its willingness to demand the CIA answer for its actions.
Every year, the federal government funds over 60 billion dollars in basic and applied research. Most of this funding is concentrated within 11 departments and agencies. The research results typically are reported in articles published in a wide variety of academic journals. Write your representatives to ask that they co-sponsor the Federal Research Public Access Act (H.R. 5037 and S. 1373), a bill that would ensure free, timely, online access to the published results of research funded by eleven U.S. federal agencies.
Bills to provide free online public access to taxpayer-funded CRS Reports have been introduced in the House (H.R. 3762) and the Senate (S. Res. 118). The House bill is currently pending before the Committee on House Administration; the Senate bill is awaiting action by the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. You can help move these bills through Congress; write your representatives to ask that they support H.R. 3762 and S.Res. 118 today.
Ask your Senator to cosponsor S. 482, a bill to require senators to file their campaign finance reports electronically.
The Senate still allows candidates to file paper reports with the Secretary of the Senate. After receiving the reports, the Secretary of the Senate delivers the reports in paper to the FEC, who then must input them into their computer databases to be accessed by the public online. As a result of the delay, donors can bundle contributions in the final, critical weeks of a campaign – providing the funds necessary for last minute negative attack ads or push polls – with absolute anonymity until well after an election has taken place.