Policy and News Updates for December 19, 2006

Policy Updates

[new] New Congressional panels to provide oversight on information sharing, intelligence

Incoming Chairman of the Committee on Government Reform Henry Waxman [D-CA] announced last week that he plans to reorganize his committee, including creating an Information Policy, Census and National Archives Subcommittee,
“so that the jurisdiction of each subcommittee will have broad appeal and will engage the attention of the subcommittee members.” Incoming Democratic leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi [D-CA], announced last week a new panel to oversee spending on intelligence. The Select Intelligence Oversight Panel will be part of the Appropriations Committee and will draw its membership from the House Intelligence and Appropriations committees.
Sources: Rep. Waxman’s letter to Committee members [PDF]; New House panel will oversee information policy [GovExec.com]; Pelosi Calls for New Oversight of Intelligence Spending [New York Times]; Intelligence Ignorance [Washington Post Editorial]

[new] Forest Service cuts public appeal process

The United States Forest Service is eliminating environmental-impact statements from its planning process, cutting one way for the public to comment and appeal on its long-term plans for national forests and grasslands. The U.S. Forest Service claims that, “writing management plans has no effect on the environment,” and therefore long-term planning can be excluded from environmental review.
Sources: Forest Service press release; New policy limits environmental scrutiny, public appeals [McClatchy Newspapers]

[new] Lawmakers ask for release of anthrax attack info

Thirty-three members of Congress, led by Senator Chuck Grassley [R-IA] and Congressman Rush Holt [D-NJ], sent a letter to the FBI on December 12, asking the FBI to release information from its probe into the 2001 anthrax attacks. The FBI has so far refused to share information about the probe due to the possibility of leaks.
Sources: Letter to the FBI [PDF]; Lawmakers urge FBI to release information on 2001 anthrax attacks [JURIST]

News from Coalition Partners and Others

Indiana open govt coalition launches new website
One of our coalition partners, the Indiana Coalition for Open Government (ICOG), launched a new website last week, including exciting features such as an automatic records request generator (Indiana specific), a searchable archives, and a monthly opinion poll on issues in Indiana and elsewhere. Check it out here.

Scientists speak out against suppression
More than 10,000 scientists have signed a letter on the misuse of science by the Bush administration. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a list of all of the scientists who have signed the letter. UCS also released a new online feature, The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science, which exposes dozens of instances in which research findings have been manipulated or suppressed by political appointees.