Policy and News Updates for November 30, 2004

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Policy Updates

[new]Safeguarding Sources
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-CT) introduced an 11th hour bill, entitled the Free Speech Protection Act of 2004 (S. 3020), that would protect the anonymity of people who provide information to journalists.
Status: Having introduced the bill on Nov. 19 at end of the 108th Congress as largely a symbolic act, Dodd stated his intent to reintroduce it during the next Congress.
Source: Reporters Committee, Nov. 22 and the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government

[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 have likely kept the intelligence budget secret, let only Congress appeal agency decisions to stamp documents “secret,” and create weak congressional oversight for both the National Intelligence Director and the government’s restrictions on unclassified information.
Status: The entire bill appears dead but could be addressed by this Congress when it reconvenes to vote on the omnibus spending bill on Dec. 7.
Source: New York Times, Nov. 23.

Action: For alerts from many concerned groups, see the Rights Working Group.

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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!

The Latest Op-Eds from Knight-Ridder/Tribune:

  • Tom Blanton reviews how the “leading losers” in the 1974 battle to pass the Freedom of Information Act “now dominate the presidency, the Pentagon and the Supreme Court.”
  • Intelligence reform: How congressional negotiators fail whistleblowers

No More Secrets
[Newsweek Dec. 6 issue]

Grassley Defends Whistle-Blower: Senator Asks FDA Not to Retaliate
[Washington Post Nov. 30]

Unions Challenge DHS Non-Disclosure Agreement
[Secrecy News Nov. 29]

Tracking CIA Overclassification
[Secrecy News Nov. 29]

Column: Prosecution of reporters threatens your right to know
[Salem News Nov. 29]

Web Won’t Let Government Hide
[Wired News Nov. 29]

Reporters under siege in era of U.S. government secrecy
[Los Angeles Times via The Register Guard Nov. 28]

Open-records access by law enforcement 65% or less
[The Tennessean Nov. 28]

Open records debate showcases tensions

[Palm Beach Post Nov. 27]

Planning agencies comply with 88% of records requests
[The Tennessean Nov. 27]

Only 60% of school systems honor records requests
[The Tennessean Nov. 26]

Audit: Access to records often denied
[The Tennessean Nov. 25]

Veto Battle 30 Years Ago Set Freedom of Information Norms
[National Security Archive Nov. 23]

Past Updates…