Government Docs

Piercing The Fog: Opposing Government Secrecy

Kathleen writes "The National Freedom of Information Coalition, which advocates for open government held its 2005 conference.
Associated Press President and CEO Tom Curley stated,"We all need to do a better job of persuading the public that freedom of information is not a media privilege but a key part of what keeps other freedoms alive for all."
Curley cited some encouraging developments in recent months, such as the Sunshine in Government Initiative by the AP and seven journalism organizations. The coalition, which was announced in March, is lobbying for legislation in Congress to speed the release of records under the federal Freedom of Information Act."

Payola Press Pimped by Bush Again

kathleen writes "An Agriculture Department agency paid a freelance writer at least $7,500 to write articles touting federal conservation programs and place them in outdoors magazines, according to agency records and interviews.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service hired freelancer Dave Smith in September 2003 to "research and write articles for hunting and fishing magazines describing the benefits of NRCS Farm Bill programs to wildlife habitat and the environment," according to agency procurement documents obtained by The Washington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request.

This is why the Freedom House press survey reported the decline in the U.S. score."

Primer on FOIA Requests

Daniel writes "The NPR program "On the Media" on May 6, 2005 carried an interview with Russ Kick, the proprieter of the memoryhole.org, which focused on the Freedom of Information Act and how to use it."

GAO Finds Bush Administration Violated Propaganda Prohibition

Kathleen writes "The GAO report, Unattributed Prepackaged News Stories Violate Publicity or Propaganda Prohibition was released on May 12, 2005.

Susan A. Poling, Managing Associate General,
Counsel, Office of General Counsel conclueds" HHS (Health and Human Services) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy(ONDCP) both commissioned and distributed prepackaged news stories and introductory scripts about their activities that were designed to be indistinguishable from news stories produced by private news broadcasters. In neither case did the agency include any statement or other indication in its news stories that disclosed to the television viewing audience (the target of the purported news stories) that the agency wrote and produced those news stories. In other words, television-viewing audiences did not know that stories they watched on television news programs about the government were, in fact, prepared by the government. We therefore concluded that those prepackaged news stories violated the publicity or propaganda prohibition." [p.7]
A pdf version is here.
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America's right to know being threatened

Anonymous Patron writes "Restrictions on the public's access to information grow at a startling pace. The office in charge of the national-security classification system reported last month that government classification actions had hit another new high: 15.6 million, up from 14.2 million the previous year. Says

A Column in The Daily Herald, Provo Utah. Some secrets make sense, of course. Others border on the bizarre."

FOI challenges in Scotland 'exceed expectations'

Anonymous Patron writes "Digital Media Europe: News Public authorities in Scotland are being challenged on withholding information requested under the Freedom of Information Act much more often than was previously expected, it has emerged.

The Scottish Information Commissioner's Office said on 5 May that it was on course to receive 'far more' requests to review FOI decisions than the 200 to 400 originally anticipated within the first year of the Act coming fully into force."

Support Government Info on Library Leg Day

Daniel wrote in to remind us Library Legislation Day, 2005 is coming up soon. There are several opportunities for Advocacy in the near future. Many librarians will be in Washington D.C. for National Library Legislative Day (May 3-4) and the Interagency Depository Seminar (June 8-15). Please take advantage of these, or any other opportunities you may have, to tell your Legislators about the importance of bringing Documents to the People.

In terror war's name, public loses information

Anonymous Patron writes "From Boston.com: Federal agencies under the Bush administration are sweeping vast amounts of public information behind a curtain of secrecy in the name of fighting terrorism, using 50 to 60 loosely defined security designations that can be imposed by officials as low-ranking as government clerks."

Threat to Public Grows With State Secrecy, Civil Libertarians Argue

The NewStandard Says The case of a government interpreter-turned-whistleblower serves to illustrate the snowballing trend of hiding embarrassing information -- a pattern critics believe may ironically lead to greater public insecurity.

National Diet Library working on digitization of books

Anonymous Patron writes "Japan Today Reports The National Diet Library is wrestling to digitize 8.14 million books to keep pace with the age of the Internet and to prepare against major earthquakes and other natural disasters.

The Diet library, the only archive of the legislative branch of government in Japan, has been collecting publications issued in the country since its opening in 1948."

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