Policy and News Updates for February 8, 2005


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Policy Updates



[new]Gonzales Confirmed
Before he was confirmed by a Senate vote of 60-36 as the next U.S. Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales promised to: 1) review John Ashcroft’s directive to federal agencies to withhold information when in doubt; 2) look into establishing a single, uniform standard to replace the hodge podge of restrictions on "sensitive" but unclassified information; and 3) work to ease public access to information under the Freedom of Information Act. Whether these promises will result in helping open the government remains to be seen.


[new]Fate of Info Sharing Unclear After DHS Confirmation Hearings
Several senators urged Michael Chertoff, nominated to lead the Department of Homeland Security, to move faster in writing procedures for information sharing between federal, state and local governments and the private sector about homeland security vulnerabilities and threats. Left unclear is whether the public will have a chance to view the procedures and whether the policies will further expand a zone of government secrecy and undermine the public’s ability to make itself safe.
Status: A vote is expected this week.


[new]Sunshine Week Website Debuts
The Sunshine Week project introduced a new website last week that offers a number of resources and tools to journalists and others looking to cover or participate in this year’s activities. The intent of Sunshine Week is to highlight the importance of open government through news stories and other media during the week of March 13.
Source: www.sunshineweek.org


**For other policies that OpenTheGovernment.org is watching, please visit our compendium.


The Resource Center at OpenTheGovernment.org provides a wealth of information for right-to-know advocates. Here you will find information to help you learn about the RTK issues, see what others have done, and access tools to help you become an RTK advocate. Four main sections comprise the Resource Center — Policy, Strategy, Library and Connect.



News Highlights



Looking for authors! The Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service distributes op-ed opinion pieces on any topic related to freedom of information. Pieces related in some way to the Freedom of Information Act are especially welcome. The op-eds may be published freely as long as the author is credited. To view the latest op-ed as well as all pieces in the series, go to Knight Ridder/Tribune. Pieces should be 700 words in length and sent as part of the email message (without attachments) to Ray Walker at rwalker@krtinfo.com and oped@krtinfo.com. Please also let us know if you submit a piece!


Recent pieces:

  • Mark Tapscott tells how the government is hiding data on convicted illegal aliens. "WARNING: " he writes, "This column will make you very angry! "
  • Martin Halstuk unravels the secrecy around the intelligence budget and declares that Congress "should restore the CIA’s credibility with the American people."


DOE Maintains Increased Intelligence Budget Secrecy
[Secrecy News Feb. 7]


C.I.A. Defers to Congress, Agreeing to Disclose Nazi Records
[New York Times Feb. 7]


Value add? New questions arise about how accessible agencies should make government data
[Federal Computer Week Feb. 7]


Hazardous cargo raises safety concerns
[Star-Telegram Feb. 7]


New barrier seen to viewing data on U.S. spending
[Cox News Service via Arizona Daily Star Feb. 6]


Post seeks access to sealed papers in GI trials
[Denver Post Feb. 4]


Shhhh. U.S. appeals USA PATRIOT loss
[SecurityFocus Feb. 4]


Bill aims for more open government
[Jackson Sun Feb. 4]


Baltimore Sun Donates Legal Fee Award to Sunshine Week
[Sunshine Week Feb. 4]


NIH Grant Recipients Are ‘Asked’ to Post Data
[Washington Post Feb. 4]


Watergate Papers Go Public
[Washington Post Feb. 4]


New coalition plans to promote open government
[WKYT Feb. 3]


Court Orders CIA to Comply With Request For Torture Records
[ACLU Feb. 2]


Government keeping more secrets in name of national security
[Scripps Howard News Service Feb. 2]


Bill would aid people with records requests
[The Olympian Feb. 2]


Skaggs Named to Public Interest Declassification Board
[Secrecy News Feb. 2]


Freedom of Information Comes at a $372,799 Cost
[Daily Business Review Jan. 31]


Open Government: Meetings law faces overhaul
[Las Vegas Review-Journal Jan. 31]


Bringing the War Back Home
[Mother Jones Jan. 31]


Past Updates…