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NEWS: AP Spearheads New Push for Government Accountability

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posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 03:50 AM
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In anticipation of Sunshine Week, a week-long campaign for government openess led by the Associated Press and more than 50 other organizations, Senator Partick Leahy (D) said he would introduce a bill calling for the establishment of an advisory panel to speed the fulfillment of FOIA requests and force government accountability. This is contrary to the standing policy, which is to automatically deny most requests. The effort is intended to protest and counteract a growing tendency towards opacity in governmental operations since 9/11.
 



www.cnn.com
The Sunshine in Government Initiative seeks to combat what the groups see as increased government secrecy since the 2001 terrorist attacks. The coalition will lobby for legislation and seek to educate the public about First Amendment issues.

"National security depends on public trust," AP President and CEO Tom Curley said. "The trend toward secrecy is the greatest threat to democracy. We must be vigilant at explaining and fighting for accountable government in every jurisdiction."

The initiative was announced ahead of "Sunshine Week," a weeklong campaign for government openness spearheaded by the AP and more than 50 news outlets, journalism groups, universities and the American Library Association.


Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


National security DOES depend on public trust, moreso than inteligence, technology, or military might. An informed citizenry is the key to a democratic government, and a truly democratic government is a thing so beautiful, people will fight and die to protect it. Trust in public officials has been in a tail-spin since the JFK assassination. People distrust the government because it appears to have a greater interest in protecting its own interests when it is supposed to be protecting the interests of the people.

Hopefully this initiative will encourage more people to lobby for transparent government. The only way Washington will give in is if they see it is in their best interests to do so. Like any other people, politicians generally seek to push the envelope, and can be expected to do whatever they think they can get away with. It's no different than a small child left by a jar of cookies. The key is limiting the ability of politicians to act in secrecy. If their actions are susceptible to public review (and corresponding outrage) they will be less inclined to serve their own interests and more inclined to serve ours.

Related News Links:
news.corporate.findlaw.com
www.rathergate.com
www.rtnda.org




posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 07:51 AM
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Transparency in government. Now there's an interesting concept. ...Are you up for writing an explanation?

Good coverage WydreOne. Important topic. Thanks.


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posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 08:01 AM
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Well..if it matters, my opinion on the subject is less than optimistic. So much federal work has been contracted out to private firms as of late, FOIA is pretty much irrelevant anyway. The purpose of this, in my opinion, is to produce increased trust in government without actually sacrificing the brutal efficiency and secrecy they've come to rely on to conduct their business.

I applaud the intent of these organizations, but they really ought to realize they're not dealing with dummies. The government has done some really, really unforgivable things in the last 5 years (not to mention the 200 or so before that
). They are way past the point of safe return. At this point, I see them as looters to the end. The corrupt politicians (pupppets for international bankers) will ride this country into the ground, buy the rights to it, escape from the burning wreckage, sell the title on our homeland to their friends, relatives, and business partners, and then kick back and soak up the dividends.

Either that, or they'll get chased down, hung from lamp posts, and castrated in full view of the public they so readily abandoned. At this point it could go either way.



posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 08:11 AM
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Originally posted by WyrdeOne

The purpose of this, in my opinion, is to produce increased trust in government without actually sacrificing the brutal efficiency and secrecy they've come to rely on to conduct their business.

The corrupt politicians (pupppets for international bankers) will ride this country into the ground, buy the rights to it, escape from the burning wreckage, sell the title on our homeland to their friends, relatives, and business partners, and then kick back and soak up the dividends.

Either that, or they'll get chased down, hung from lamp posts, and castrated in full view of the public they so readily abandoned. At this point it could go either way.





This could be a great discussion if you would stop being so brilliant, funny and terminally succinct.

Back to my question, reworded:

What does government transparency mean?


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posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 08:33 AM
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heh Mea Culpa

Here's a brief overview of FOIA, for the uninitiated.
ops.dot.gov...

policy.ssa.gov...

Recent changes made to the policy of FOIA via memorandum issued by Ashcroft
www.usdoj.gov...

Another site explaining that Ashcroft instructed FOIA 'judges' to deny requests whenever possible
www.ombwatch.org...

They are supposed to release all records that are asked for, and though the charter mandates no penalties for a failure to comply with a FOIA request, there were stipulations mandating a reasonably quick response to inquiries. That mandate was however, like I said, unenforcable.


"..we release the record unless such release would harm governmental interests." That's the policy currently...

I'm sure I'm not the only one who sees the potential for abuse under this wording.


This list was taken from DCAAP Document # 5410
All records in the possession of the Agency when a response is submitted to the requester are subject to disclosure, unless they fall within one or more of the following exemptions from Title 5 U.S.C.552(b):

(b)(1) -- Classified in the interest of national defense or foreign policy (the classifying authority must review to determine if classification is current).

(b)(2) -- Internal practices not directly affecting the general public.

(b)(3) -- Records specifically exempted from disclosure by statute other than Title 5 U.S.C 552(b).

(b)(4) -- Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person outside the Agency and which are privileged or confidential.

(b)(5) -- Inter or Intra-agency memoranda or letters, not available on a routine basis under the laws of civil court discovery. This normally applies to DCAA if release would reveal the deliberative process of the Agency.

(b)(6) -- Personnel or other files, release of which would result in a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

(b)(7) -- Records compiled for law enforcement purposes.

(b)(8) -- Records concerning the regulation or supervision of financial institutions.

(b)(9) -- Geological and geophysical information and data concerning wells.

This list is extensive, and could be stretched to include just about anything your heart desired, if there was a 'need' to deny a request. However, most FOIA requests used to be granted, with some notable exceptions. Now, most of them are denied.

The government has two other sneaky methods of denying requests for information. The first is to charge exhorbitant sums of money for the documents, sometimes several thousand dollars, which are supposedly for 'costs incurred while processing the request.' Sensitive documents requested by citizens without money are routinely hamstringed using this method. The second is to privatize the records that are sensitive. If a private company holds the records, they are under no obligation (under current law) to turn those records over. In fact, they can charge any sum they wish for access to the records.

So to answer your question, transparency would be the OPPOSITE of all that I just stated.




[edit on 11-3-2005 by WyrdeOne]



posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 08:42 AM
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Originally posted by WyrdeOne

So to answer your question, transparency would be the OPPOSITE of all that I just stated.





Gotcha. Transparency is when we know what the government is doing in our name.


Next question:

Why is transparency important?


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posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 12:06 PM
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well yeah for the good guys...

but i can easily see how this could be a bandaid for the very real problem...

for this to really count, we need to make our voices heard of, not only support, but going even further to protect our rights to the FOIA.

this might be the only chance for a change in this regard...
if this push fails, then it will scare away any future attemps... and if a minor compromise is made, then it will stand as precident... so no further changes will occur either.

good post

lets all do something besides hope... time to write a few letters.
email addresses for US senators...



posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 12:42 PM
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It is only through a well-informed citizenry that the leaders of our nation remain accountable to the governed and the American people can be assured that neither fraud nor government waste is concealed.



The Department of Justice and this Administration are equally committed to protecting other fundamental values that are held by our society. Among them are safeguarding our national security, enhancing the effectiveness of our law enforcement agencies, protecting sensitive business information .... federal agencies are concerned with the need to protect critical systems, facilities, stockpiles, and other assets from security breaches and harm -- and in some instances from their potential use as weapons of mass destruction in and of themselves. Such protection efforts, of course, must at the same time include the protection of any agency information that could enable someone to succeed in causing the feared harm.


Doesn't this essentially negate the first quote. Say a person makes a request for a document that they believe leads to showing fraud or waste in the government. Wouldnt the fear of the harm that would result from this information being released to the public, cause it to fall into protection from release?

Phae



posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 01:13 PM
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Phaethor
That's exactly the problem. The government has essentially said "Sure, we'll tell you whatever you want to know, in a timely fashion, as long as it doesn't hurt us, or fall into any of these (x) categories, and it will cost (x) dollars, and there's actually no recourse if we decide not to tell you what you want to know." It's not an iron-clad promise, or a real and binding contract..it's more of a suggestion, a pretense of cooperation.

One hand extended, as though to greet us in brotherhood..what's the other hand doing? Where'd this knife in my back come from? Where'd my wallet go? Who are those guys running away, blue and red ties flapping in the breeze? Is that my blood? Yup, I'm bleeding. Crap, I never should have taken my eyes off the other hand...



posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 05:04 PM
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But will the AP push for Media accountability? Highly doubtful.

What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Big Media wants control, just not of your mind, not jus tof your wallet. Focring government even more to it's heel will pretty much put it in charge.

Unless *both* organizations are forced to be transparent.



posted on Mar, 11 2005 @ 05:29 PM
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Phuge
I always thought the government controlled the media, and now you're saying the media controls the government? What evidence do you have to support that?

I don't think it's impossible, but highly unlikely. That would mean Bush is some sort of crusading do-gooder, and his policies and prejudices certainly don't reflect that.

No, I think they have been tentacles sprouting from the same octopus for some time now.



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