New Bill to Reform Classification, Security Clearances- August 6, 2014 Newsletter

– Brief Updates on Coalition Partners & Others (more)
– Congressmen Introduce Legislation to Reform Classification, Security Clearances (more)
– DC Circuit Court Ruling Good News for Fight against Secret Law (more)

News from Coalition Partners & Others

Presidential Libraries Donation Reform Act

The donations that fund Presidential Libraries are mostly hidden from public view. Giving to fundraising organizations for these libraries creates ample opportunities for influence peddling outside in the government’s highest office. The Presidential Libraries Donation Reform Act (PLDRA) would help remedy that. Under the PLDRA, presidential library fundraisers would submit quarterly reports to the National Archives and Records Administration making record of contributions reaching and exceeding $200. Fourteen groups joined the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington in a letter to the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee supporting this legislation, urging the committee to act on the bill before the end of the session. Read the letter here.

Partners Respond to Leahy’s USA Freedom Act

The USA Freedom Act passed by the House was largely stripped of transparency provisions and meaningful privacy protections. The bill introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy greatly improves on that bill, including essential reporting requirements and responding to many privacy concerns. Twenty groups joined OTG’s letter supporting the Leahy’s transparency improvements. More than 40 groups, including OTG and many coalition partners, joined the New America Foundation’s letter in support of the bill, available here.

Whistleblower Appreciation Day

Openness and accountability groups celebrated the first annual National Whistleblower Appreciation Day on July 30th. The Senate passed Resolution 202 last year to establish a day for recognizing the contributions of whistleblowers and informing workers about their right to blow the whistle. The Government Accountability Project outlined the challenges and opportunities for whistleblowers in an op-ed featured in The Hill.

Congressmen Introduce Legislation to Reform Classification, Security Clearances

Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman Bennie G. Thompson introduced the Clearance and Over-Classification Reform and Reduction Act (CORRECT Act) in July. The legislation would, among other things, strengthen the Public Interest Declassification Board and require the President to set a goal to reduce classification by 10 percent or more in five years. The bill text (H.R. 5240) is available here. A fact sheet on the bill is available here.

DC Circuit Court Ruling Good News for Fight against Secret Law

Last week the DC Circuit Court issued a ruling vacating a previous ruling from a lower court that a Presidential Directive in the possession of a federal agency is not an agency record subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The case in question was a suit brought by our partner the Electronic Information Privacy Center (EPIC) for access to a Presidential Policy Directive establishing “United States policy, strategy, guidelines, and implementation actions to secure cyberspace.” The DC Court’s ruling makes certain that the government will not be able rely on the lower court ruling to argue that the public cannot use the FOIA to obtain any records that originated in the White House.


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