Policy and News Updates for July 13, 2004

Policy Updates

(New information is highlighted with [new] or [updated] in the title)

[new] Indian Affairs FOIA Exemption
Section 7 of S. 297, the Federal Acknowledgment Process Reform Act of 2003 exempts certain actions by the Interior Department’s Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Several groups and individuals voiced objections to a Senate Bureau of Indian Affairs reform bill, in a letter delivered to Senators Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) and Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) July 8.
Source: OMB Watcher, July 12, 2004.

[updated] Sensitive Security Information (SSI): Federalism v. Secrecy
The Senate pushed to pre-empt state and local sunshine laws in order to mandate secrecy about public safety problems in aviation, rail and other transportation systems.
Status: The administration-sponsored secrecy provisions were in the Senate-passed version of the $ 350 billion transportation bill (H.R. 3550); the version passed by the House lacks them. Currently in conference.
Source: An action alerts is posted from The American Library Association.

Patriot Act #1: Reversing the Patriot Act
The Civil Liberties Restoration Act 2004 (S. 2528) would end secret hearings, ensure due process for detained individuals, limit secret seizures of records, and limit the use of secret evidence.

Status: Introduced by members of the House and Senate June 16, and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
Source: Text of the bill, June 16, 2004. A bill analysis & talking points is available from the Rights Working Group.

Patriot Act #2: Extending Patriot Act
H.R. 3179, introduced by Reps. Sensenbrenner and Goss, includes several sections of Patriot II.
After opposition from many groups coordinated by the Rights Working Group, H.R. 3179 was not added to the intelligence authorization bill (S. 2386) during a closed mark-up session on June 16th.
Status: May come up as a floor amendment to the intelligence authorization bill in the Senate. Source: Bill of Rights Defense Committee

Patriot Act #3: Patriot Act Sunsets
On May 21, ten senators introduced a bill, S. 2476, that would make permanent many provisions of the Patriot Act scheduled to sunset next year. The bill is referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

[new] Patriot Act #4: Freedom to Read Protection Act
House Republicans, under strong pressure from the White House, narrowly defeated an effort to restrict the government’s ability to seize library and bookseller records under the Patriot Act.
Source:Washington Post, July 9, 2004.

Media Coverage of Military Coffins
By a vote of 54-39, the Senate on June 21, upheld a ban on media coverage of fallen soldiers’ flag-draped coffins returning to the U.S. Source: New York Times, June 22, 2004.

For Official Use Only Provisions
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is imposing extraordinary new access controls on unclassified information that it deems “for official use only” (FOUO), which includes “information that could be sold for profit” or indicate “government intentions.” This type of information is different from Sensitive But Unclassified information, which DHS is expected to write provisions for very soon.
Source: Secrecy News June 11, 2004.


*OMB Watch released an analysis that found a report on the Data Quality Act from the Office of Management and Budget filled with inaccuracies and misleading statements.
Source:OMB Watch, July 12, 2003.

*The CIA has decided to keep almost entirely secret the controversial October 2002 CIA intelligence estimate about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, according to the CIA’s June 1, 2004 response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the National Security Archive.
Source: National Security Archives, July 9, 2004.

*Military records that could help establish President Bush’s whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.
Source: New York Times, July 8, 2004.

*The Justice Department has completed its investigation of allegations made by an F-B-I whistle-blower. However, it won’t release the report because it’s secret.
Source: Associated Press, July 9, 2004.

*The federal government’s secrecy watchdog has asked the Pentagon to explain why parts of a memo about the interrogation of terror detainees were classified.
Source: United Press International, July 8, 2004.

*A federal judge threw out a lawsuit by a whistleblower who alleged security lapses in the FBI’s translator program, ruling that her claims might expose government secrets that could damage national security.
Source: Washington Post, July 7, 2004.

*A Michigan law student said he might challenge Michigan’s privacy laws in court, after being denied library patron information under the privacy exemption of the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
Source: Detroit News, July 6, 2004.

*A national poll conducted for the Chicago Tribune on First Amendment issues has found that two in 10 say that newspaper editorials critical of a war the U.S. is fighting should not be allowed. Twenty percent also say that negative reporting on a war should not be allowed.
Source: Editor and Publisher, July 6, 2004.

*Washington state attorney general is arguing that some public records should be exempt from disclosure based on attorney-client privilege, putting the people’s right to know under fierce assault by some state agencies and the judicial system.
Source: Evergreen Freedom Foundation, June 29, 2004.

Past Updates…