Policy and News Updates for November 23, 2004


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Policy Updates


[updated]Intelligence reform: Checks on Secrecy Traded Away as Talks Fail
Negotiations in Congress broke down over matters unrelated to openness in government. While the language that negotiators were drafting before talks collapsed is unclear, the final deal would likely keep the intelligence budget secret, let only Congress appeal agency decisions to stamp documents "secret," and create weak congressional oversight over both the National Intelligence Director and the government’s restrictions on unclassified information.
Status: The entire bill appears dead, although there is talk of bringing Congress back to vote on the bill in December. The main sticking point is the role of the Defense Secretary in controlling intelligence spending.
Source: New York Times, Nov. 23, 2004.
Action: For alerts from many concerned groups, see the Rights Working Group.


[updated]NIH Proposes Open Access Policy
A new proposal from the National Institutes of Health would require all published scientific articles based on taxpayer-funded research to be publicly available for free. Currently, scientific journals publish the studies, which can only be accessed by subscriptions or through an academic institution that has its own subscription.
Status: The public comment period closed Nov. 16 and the agency is reviewing comments.
Source: Alliance for Taxpayer Access
Action: Send a letter to Congress.


[updated] Independent Classification Board
Language added to the intelligence reform legislation (see above) would allow Congress (but not the public) to appeal agency classification decisions through a newly created Independent National Security Classification Board. Agency efforts to black out major sections of high-profile reports on Iraq and 9/11 prompted the proposal of such a board.
Status: Negotiations between the House and Senate will likely have to start fresh next year, although a vote could take place in December.
Action: Send a letter to Congress in support of a classification board!



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


In the Issues section of the OpenTheGovernment.org website, you can find background information on the four issues that the coalition focuses on — democracy, public trust and accountability, environmental health and safety, and national security. Learn some of the history of the issues, why they are necessary for an open government, and what are the related government policies.


News Highlights



Looking for authors! The Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service distributes op-ed opinion pieces on any topic related to freedom of information. 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!


Robert J. Ambrogi, the executive director of the Mass. Newspaper Publishers Association, has created a new blog on freedom of the press at http://www.legaline.com/medialaw.html.


Rail firm won’t disclose hazmat re-routing
[United Press International Nov. 22]


Defense Audits Kept Behind Closed Doors
[Los Angeles Times Nov. 21]


More on NGA Withdrawals from the Public Domain
[Secrecy News Nov. 21]


Changes eyed in security law
[Rocky Mountain News Nov. 19]


Shhh … someone might hear you
[MSNBC Nov. 18]


Let’s live up to America’s principles of openness
[Daily Herald Nov. 18]


Clarke Testimony from 2002 Declassified
[Secrecy News Nov. 18]


More NGA Withdrawals from the Public Domain
[Secrecy News Nov. 18]


NGA Pursues Control of Unclassified Satellite Imagery
[Secrecy News Nov. 17]


WV Groups Sue Interior Under FOIA for Wind Turbine Documents
[SEJ WatchDog Nov. 17]


Report: A.G. Nominee Worked to Keep Info From Press
[Editor & Publisher Nov. 16]


Gonzales Record on Government Secrecy
[Project on Government Oversight Nov. 16]


Critics: Schwarzenegger falls short of promise of openness
[Associated Press Nov. 16]


Past Updates…