human, being

Obama to open up Freedom of Information Act
January 21, 2009, 2:01 pm
Filed under: As I See It | Tags: , , , ,

Today, President Barack Obama said he would make the federal government more transparent by changing the way the Freedom of Information Act is interpreted. Under the Bush administration, our government made every effort to NOT disclose documents that are of public record, or to black out major parts of documents in the name of “national security.”

One of the reasons why Americans are free is because of an open government. Regardless of how you feel about the media, a reporter’s ability to sit in on a government meeting and report on what is said, to inspect and even copy the full text of government documents and records, is essential to a free press, free discourse and plain old freedom.

This declaration by President Obama is the first step in fixing something that Bush and his cronies broke right after 9/11. Everything our government did had a veil of secrecy about it.

“For a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” Obama said today. His is directing agencies to err on the side of making information public, according to an AP story by Jennifer Loven. That means agencies should stop looking for reasons to legally keep the information under wraps, which is what was done under Bush.

Loven writes, Just because a government agency has the legal power to keep information private does not mean that it should, Obama said. Reporters and public-interest groups often make use of the law to explore how and why government decisions were made; they are often stymied as agencies claim legal exemptions to the law.

That President Obama would like to make our government incredibly transparent is a critical first step in undoing some of the injury of the previous administration. Do you trust “the government?” I work for the State, and I don’t trust the government.

“But these historic measures do mark the beginning of a new era of openness in our country,” Obama said. “And I will, I hope, do something to make government trustworthy in the eyes of the American people, in the days and weeks, months and years to come.”

I hope so.


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