News from Coalition Partners & Others
I. Good, Bad FOIA Provisions in DHS Spending Bill
II. Senate Judiciary Passes PATRIOT Act Extension
III. Join OpenTheGovernment.org Tomorrow for a Discussion with Norn Eisen
Prior to the first release of stimulus recipient reporting data, the
Coalition for an Accountable Recovery (CAR) briefed reporters, advocacy groups, and private citizens on
“What to Expect on October 15.”
During the briefing, CAR co-chairs OMB Watch and Good Jobs First
helped participants see the data in context of past and future releases of spending data by the federal government and fielded questions.
Pre-briefing charts and tables from the briefing can be found here.
On October 6, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
announced the 2009 Pioneer Award winners.
The awards, which recognize leaders who are extending freedom and innovation on the electronic frontier, will be presented
on October 22nd, at the Westin San Francisco in conjunction with the Web 2.0 Summit,
co-produced by O’Reilly and TechWeb
FOIA advocates were pleased last week by the inclusion of a provision in the final conference agreement on the
2010 DHS Spending Bill that will
make it easier for Congressional staff, advocates, and the public to find new FOIA exemptions tucked into other legislation.
The provision, which mirrors legislation that was introduced by Senator Leahy (D-VT) in the 110th Congress,
S. 2746, the OPEN FOIA Act of 2008,
is an important improvement to our premier open government law. Advocates were unhappy, however, by the additional
inclusion of a provision that interferes in on-going FOIA litigation for the release of photos of detainee torture
by permitting the Secretary of Defense to
withhold from release photographs and other visual media if he determines that their public disclosure “would endanger
citizens of the United States, members of the United States Armed Forces, or employees of the United States Government
deployed outside the United States.” Read analysis of the controversial provision from Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American
Scientists Project on Government Secrecy here.
On October 8, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed
S. 1692, USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2009. It is unclear when the full Senate will debate the bill.
By agreeing to this bill, we believe the Senate Judiciary
Committee missed an important opportunity to interject accountability into our intelligence programs, and to reduce government
secrecy. The House Judiciary Committee’s version of bill is
expected to be introduced very soon.
On October 21, Norm Eisen, Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, will meet with the OpenTheGovernment.org Steering Committee, coalition partners,
and others to discuss transparency initiatives in and from the White House. The event, which follows
the quarterly Steering Committee meeting is intended to provide DC-area coalition partners and friends with an opportunity
to interact and discuss on-going issues in an informal environment.