Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bush Administration Provides Grant To Research Ways To Weaken Freedom Of Information Act

The Bush Administration has provided a $1 million grant to a Texas Law School, to do research aimed at rolling back the amount of data available to the public through freedom-of-information requests.

"There's the public's right to know, but how much?" Jeffrey Addicott, a professor at the law school, St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio, told USA Today.

Addicott said he will use that research to produce a national "model statute" that could be adopted to ensure that information "stays out of the hands of the bad guys" -- like terrorists.

But is that a real problem? Has Al Qaeda submitted Freedom of Information Act requests? Addicott admitted he knew of no cases in the U.S. in which public records or a public meeting were used for a terrorist act.

The federal Freedom of Information Act became law in 1966. Since then, the U.S. has been engaged in a host of conflicts -- Vietnam and the Cold War, for example -- and yet, there's no record of our enemies ever seeking to get the upper hand via the Freedom of Information Act.

"To automatically believe that the less known the better is really not rational," said Paul McMasters, a specialist in public information law at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Va.

But that didn't stop the irrational leaders of the Republican-led Congress from slipping the grant money into the Department of Defense budget.

***

What's really going on? Conservatives are once again looking for ways to restrict the power of what they see as a liberal, anti-Bush press. Other conservatives have been talking up re-establishing a U.S. Office of Censorship, seemingly for similar reasons.

Over the past four years, the Republican-led Congress has closed some meetings and restricted some access to records for fear of making information available to terrorists, according to the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va.

Irrational fear? Possibly. A back-handed way to obstruct what they see as "liberal media bias?" Absolutely.

Let's remember, the First Amendment provides for freedom of the press -- not freedom of the press when convenient. When Congress seeks to restrict our freedoms, ask yourself: what kind of democracy are we fighting to bring to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere?

5 Comments:

Anonymous yellerpup said...

Chilling. Wish it was surprising.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Minnesota Libra said...

This is truly scary - they are systematically gutting the entire Constitution and before 08 I truly expect "Martial Law" somewhere in this country. If nothing else this administration needs to know how many and how long the American people will tolerate having military in the streets.

1:36 PM  
Anonymous Double T said...

Obstructing a 'liberal media bias' that does not exist OR obstructing prosecution and justice under our former constitution.

2:27 AM  
Anonymous rodeodance said...

tax payer $ to do this. whow.

2:27 AM  
Anonymous Ilsa said...

FOIA:

"Please send me all of your information on funding of CIA assets in the Middle East.
Sincerely, Al Kada."

Sure. Right. They'll devise something like this to present a "need" for doing this for our security. And they'll scare us into believing we need militia in the streets every day, and someone to monitor our email.

2:28 AM  

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