Policy and News Updates for January 12, 2010


Policy and News Updates for January 12, 2010

 

In This Issue: [click on the link to go to the corresponding section]

 

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. Executive Order on Classified National Security Information Released

II. CUI Task Force Recommendations Released

III. Save the Date: OpenTheGovernment’s Sunshine Week Event on March 19

News from Coalition Partners & Others

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EPIC Reveals Docs with Disturbing Details on Body Scanners

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) released documents obtained as a result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit showing that, despite public assurances from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) that controversial "body scanners" cannot store or send their graphic images, the agency specifies that the body scanners it purchases must have image storage and sending abilities. The documents are available on the organization’s Whole Body Imaging page.

 

CREW Sues SEC for Records Describing Post-Madoff Scandal Reforms

On January 6, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed suit against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in response to the agency’s failure to failure to produce records in response to CREW’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records related to reforms the SEC has taken in the wake of its failure to detect Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Releasing the records would help the public understand the extent to which the SEC has implemented meaningful and necessary reforms that will prevent similar schemes from going undetected in the future.

 

NFOIC Awarded Knight Foundation Grant to Take Up FOI Lawsuits

The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) is using a new substantial grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to launch the Knight FOI Fund to cover up-front costs such as court costs, filing fees, depositions and initial consultation fees, if attorneys are willing to take cases that otherwise would go unfiled. NFOIC will also use the new resources to continue to offer sustainability and project grants for state FOI coalitions.

 

I. Executive Order on Classified National Security Information Released

OpenTheGovernment.org welcomed the Administration’s December 29th release of a new Executive Order on Classified National Security Information that reaffirms the need for and value of openness and accountability even as the government appropriately protects real secrets whose revelation would cause damage to our national security. The new EO is the final product of an innovative effort by the executive branch to solicit and incorporate public input into the new policy.(Read thorough critiques of promising reforms and disappointments in the new policy by Steve Aftergood in Secrecy News here and Meredith Fuchs in the National Security Archives’ blog, Unredacted, here.) According to Patrice McDermott, Director of OpenTheGovernment.org, "we look forward to working with the White House and the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to help ensure the policy’s reforms, such as increased accountability for individual’s decisions to classify or overclassify information and new training, change the culture of secrecy within the bureaucracy."

 

II. CUI Task Force Recommendations Released

On December 15, the Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) Task Force created by President Obama’s May 27, 2009 Memorandum on Classified Information and CUI released its final report and recommendations to the President. The report and recommendations are not considered binding on the President and not all are likely to be incorporated into the expected new Executive Order on CUI. OpenTheGovernment.org and several coalition partners have expressed concerns with the CUI framework since it was introduced, with no opportunity for public review or comment, by the Bush Administration in May 2008. We continue to work with the White House and ISOO, the designated executive agent for implementing the CUI framework, to make sure the policy enhances information sharing, creates incentives to reduce the use of markings, and provides a process for removing markings once the information is no longer sensitive.

 

III. Save the Date: OpenTheGovernment’s Sunshine Week Event on March 19

On Friday, March 19 from noon – 2 (EDT), our fifth annual Sunshine Week event is tentatively scheduled to be held at and webcast from the Center for American Progress. Stay tuned for details.

 

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