foia letter

Thanks.

 

Patrice McDermott, Director
OpenTheGovernment.org
www.openthegovernment.org
202.332.OPEN (6736)

 

July 7, 2008

 

The Honorable Patrick Leahy

Committee on the Judiciary

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

The Honorable Arlen Specter

Committee on the Judiciary

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510

 

Dear Mr. Chairman and Senator Specter:

 

We write on behalf of the undersigned group of business, public interest, and historical organizations to endorse the OPEN FOIA Act (S. 2746), which would ensure transparency by requiring that every statutory carve-out to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) expressly reference section 552(b)(3) of that Act. These statutory exemptions limit public access to information under the FOIA and need to be openly discussed prior to enactment.

 

As you know, the intent of the FOIA, ensuring an open and accountable government, has been seriously undermined by members of Congress who attempt to limit public access to government information through inconspicuous provisions buried deep in proposed legislation.  Such provisions can establish new FOIA exemptions under section 552(b)(3), often without any public debate about whether the new exemption is necessary or appropriate. Passage of S. 2746 is vitally important because it will require that every proposed new carve-out to the FOIA specifically reference the Act.

 

To preserve the ideals of openness that FOIA embodies, bills that exempt records from FOIA should be transparent about their intent and effect. By requiring that every proposed FOIA carve-out specifically reference 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3), the OPEN FOIA Act will give members of the public and open government advocates the tools they need to find, analyze and challenge these hidden exemptions before they are passed into law.  We therefore urge the Senate Judiciary Committee to report S. 2746 favorably and help it move quickly to the Senate floor for passage.

 

Thank you.

 

Sincerely,

 

OpenTheGovernment.org

National Security Archive

Open Society Policy Center

Electronic Frontier Foundation

American Association of Law Libraries

Public Citizen

American Civil Liberties Union

U.S. Bill of Rights Foundation