Policy and News Updates for September 9, 2008


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

News from Coalition Partners & Others

I. OpenTheGovernment.org Releases 2008 Secrecy Report Card

II. Help OpenTheGovernment.org Improve Our Website and Updates

III. OpenTheGovernment.org Asks You to Join Us on Change.org

News from Coalition Partners & Others

CREW Files Suit to Save Cheney Files

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), in partnership with historians and other open government advocates, filed suit asking that Vice President Cheney’s records be preserved under the Presidential Records Act of 1978 (PRA). The claim by the Office of the Vice President, that the office is not part of the Executive branch because the Vice President serves as the President of the Senate, has prompted concern that the Vice President will not preserve crucial records relating to national security, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, domestic wiretapping, energy policy and other major issues. Congress passed PRA in the aftermath of Watergate to ensure Executive documents are available for public review.

 

Center for American Progress Action Fund Releases Letters on Reform of the PRA

The Center for American Progress Action Fund asked 30 of the nation’s most eminent historians to join them in urging Congress to enact legislation to strengthen the Presidential Records Act. In a letter to House and Senate leaders, the historians argue that such reforms are essential to ensure that presidential records are preserved for posterity. Their call for reform has been endorsed by the three leading associations of U.S. historians: the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and coalition partner, the National Coalition for History.

 

First Amendment Foundation Hosts Symposium Celebrating Cameras in Florida Courtrooms

On September 23, 2008 at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, the First Amendment Foundation (FAF) will host an interactive symposium celebrating the 30th anniversary of cameras in Florida courtrooms. Panelists, including Florida Supreme Court justices, attorneys who argued the case, and others will discuss the battle to allow cameras in Florida courtrooms, and the effect of the pioneering effort. Details, and a registration form, available here.

 

GAP Continues to Lead Fight For Strong Whistleblower Protections

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) (with the support of OpenTheGovernment.org and other coalition partners) continues to press Congress to restore strong protections for government employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud and abuse. The House and Senate are close to reaching a final agreement between their respective bills (H.R. 985, S. 274) – both of which passed in 2007 by veto-proof margins. However, unless the Senate leadership schedules floor time to debate and pass the bill soon, Congress will not have time to over-ride President Bush’s probable veto. Send a letter to your Senator through our site asking them to talk to Senate Majority Leader Reid and Senate Minority Leader McConnell about setting aside floor time for the bill as soon as possible.

 

I. OpenTheGovernment.org Releases 2008 Secrecy Report Card

OpenTheGovernment.org’s fifth annual report on indicators of government secrecy, the 2008 Secrecy Report Card, shows both a continued expansion of government secrecy across a broad array of agencies and actions and some movement toward more openness and accountability, particularly in the Congress. OpenTheGovernment.org issued the first edition of the Secrecy Report Card to call attention to the remarkable expansion of secrecy in the federal government. This year’s expanded report seeks to provide a more complete picture of secrecy and openness in the federal government, expanding this year to cover Mandatory Declassification Review numbers and progress under the Automatic Declassification Review process.

 

II. Help OpenTheGovernment.org Improve Our Website and Updates

OpenTheGovernment.org would like to hear your thoughts on how we can improve our website and Updates. Would you like to see an OpenTheGovernment.org blog? Do you want to see more in-depth analysis or news from our coalition partners? Please take our short survey. You can also find a link to the survey on our homepage.

 

III. OpenTheGovernment.org Asks You to Join Us on Change.org

OpenTheGovernment.org invites you to visit our profile on Change.org, a social networking site that connects people to nonprofits and social changes. Set up a profile and become a supporter of OpenTheGovernment.org to help us make the federal government a more open and accountable place.

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