Archives for March, 2011
Posted: March 24, 2011 | Tags: airline maintenance
Seldom is there such a moment of informational bliss in journalist’s job as when a thick, government envelope arrives packed with the results from a long-awaited Freedom of Information Act request.
And rarely is there a more frustrating letdown than a thin FOIA rejection envelope that leaves you utterly perplexed.
I vividly recall the latter such emotion last May when a thin letter arrived from the Federal Aviation Administration. We were producing a FRONTLINE documentary called Flying Cheaper about where the major airlines such as Delta Air Lines, US Airways and United Airlines take their planes to be maintained ...
For the third time in a month the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of letting the public have access to important government documents.
In the latest case Monday, the justices refused to hear a banking group’s appeal to keep secret the identities of banks that got trillions of dollars in loans from the Federal Reserve Bank during the financial crisis.
Bloomberg News and Fox News, in separate cases, had sued the Fed for details about the loans in 2008. A court ruled in 2009 that the documents should be released.
The Fed and the Clearing House Association appealed ...
Posted: March 18, 2011 | Tags: Collaboration on Government Secrecy, Daniel Metcalfe, Exemption 3, FOIA, Freedom of Information, House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Jennifer LaFleur, ProPublica, Rick Blum, Sunshine in Government Initiative
It was a busy week on the Freedom of Information front in Washington, as the annual observance of Sunshine Week unfolded, with hearings in the House and the Senate, as well as programs at the Newseum and elsewhere. We reported earlier on the Senate hearing.
Witnesses at the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform hearing focused on an aspect of FOIA that has become a more pronounced problem in recent years: A proliferation of laws that carve out special interest FOIA exemptions. Exemption 3 of the original FOIA law passed in 1966 permitted agencies to withhold records "specifically exempted ...
Someone once said that the two most important words in the English language are: “It depends.”
And at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday on the Freedom of Information Act it was clear that how the government is doing on FOIA depends on who is answering the question. (See hearing testimony here.)
“Agencies have made real progress in applying the presumption of openness, improving the efficiency of their FOIA processes, reducing their backlogs of pending FOIA requests, expanding their use of technology, and making more information available proactively,” Melanie Pustay, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy ...
It has been a pretty good week for those interested in Freedom of Information and open government issues.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled in a FOIA case that corporations don’t have “personal privacy” rights. On the surface, that hardly seems shocking.
But there had been concern the court would side with corporations, given last year’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporations to spend their own money on political campaigns, citing First Amendment reasons and, to some extent, equating corporations with individuals.
As it turned out, there was little need to worry in the AT&T privacy case ...
The Investigative Reporting Workshop is launching “Exemption 10,” a new blog devoted to covering issues relating to freedom of information and open government. Our primary focus will be on FOIA at the federal level.
First, let’s explain the name, “Exemption10.” The Freedom of Information Act, first passed in 1966, contains nine exemptions that give agencies the power to withhold information. But 45 years of experience show that it often seems there is an unwritten 10th exemption, which can be broadly characterized as, “We don’t want to give it to you.”
As the name might imply, we are going ...