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NEWS: Government Restricts Freedom of Information Access

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posted on Mar, 13 2005 @ 03:56 PM
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Federal departments have reduced the amount of information released to the public since 1998 even though the requests for such information has been increased by another 1 million after Sept 11, peaking at 3.2 million in 2003. While the total number of requests being granted has increased from 66 percent to 88 percent in 2003, most of these requests are from social security and veteran affairs departments. Departments including the CIA and FBI are reducing the amount of information they release with the CIA granting just 12 percent of requests, which is down by 44 percent over previous years.
 



story.news.yahoo.com
"The Bush administration's attitude is that public information is largely a dangerous thing in the wrong hands. Because there's some people who could use this information improperly, we shouldn't let anybody see it. I just think secrecy of that nature is almost always the exact wrong decision," said Harry Hammitt, who publishes Access Reports, a newsletter on Freedom of Information laws.

But officials involved in national security note that, in a post 9/11 world, disclosure of some material can put the public at risk.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, at least 20 states have proposed new laws to control public records, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. These changes mostly try to prevent terrorists from seeing evacuation, emergency and security plans. But in the process, limits are being placed on everything from birth and death records to architectural and engineering drawings of public buildings, said Davis, at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

A new state-by-state study of public records laws by the Better Government Association concluded that the array of legislation is so haphazard that it hampers "the citizenry's ability to examine even the most fundamental actions of government."

Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, introduced a bill in February that would significantly reform federal FOIA laws, requiring agencies to give people seeking documents a tracking number that could be checked online. The bill also aims to reduce the kinds of excuses the government can give for refusing to release material.

The AP found several excuses are being used much more frequently by the security agencies than in past.

For example, the Justice Department has doubled the percentage of rejections because there are "no records" from 10 percent to 20 percent since 1998. At the FBI, a Justice Department agency, about 37 percent of all requests were refused in 1998 for that reason — but that number bumped up to about 55 percent last year.



Please visit the link provided for the complete story.


The Bush administration advised agencies after Sept 11 to make sure the information they released was harmless to national security but experts have said that court decisions prior to 2001 show the information was being slowly closed off.

The Federal Government is labelling more and more documents secret and has pulled thousands of documents and databases down from the Internet. The Government, excluding the CIA created a 60 percent increase of secret papers in 2003 from 2001, taking the figure to 14 million new classified documents.

This increase seriously undermines the individuals rights and makes it more difficult for the government to be held accountable for their actions.


[edit on 13-3-2005 by Mayet]

[edit on 13-3-2005 by Mayet]




posted on Mar, 13 2005 @ 05:02 PM
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Interesting. The Bush administration has many departments of Obfuscation and Information Denial. It is the antithesis of open government, corrupt to the core and losing credibility daily in the attempt to couch things under "national security" banners. But the reversal of fortune for citizen rights to info is older than that.

FOI is now just Faking Of Intelligence.


OFF TOPIC: Why do I get this message when I attempt to vote: "You can only vote for ATSNN Submissions".

Am I missing something, or is there a bug in the system? It seems cumbersome at times.


(Edit)

Hmmmm. The titular post has changed. Maybe this was a timing issue, just as I was reading and trying to vote?

Confusion reigns.



[edit on 13-3-2005 by MaskedAvatar]



posted on Mar, 13 2005 @ 05:09 PM
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For example, the Justice Department has doubled the percentage of rejections because there are "no records" from 10 percent to 20 percent since 1998. At the FBI, a Justice Department agency, about 37 percent of all requests were refused in 1998 for that reason — but that number bumped up to about 55 percent last year.


Wow, convenient.

I personally believe that is a crock. Our society is anal retentive when it comes to documentation in the corporate and government worlds precisely for the reason of accountability. In the day to day business of running society, just about everyone answers to someone and problems do/will happen. If you can't prove the who/what/when/where/why and how of your actions, then you are going to be the scapegoat and lose out. This is called job security........

But 55% of requests for information reference topics that don't have records.........it would seem reasonable that if there are about 3 million requests then a good deal of the motivations for information seekers were encountered via the media and most lilkely have been documented.

And we believe them.......?



posted on Mar, 13 2005 @ 05:43 PM
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Originally posted by MemoryShock


For example, the Justice Department has doubled the percentage of rejections because there are "no records" from 10 percent to 20 percent since 1998. At the FBI, a Justice Department agency, about 37 percent of all requests were refused in 1998 for that reason — but that number bumped up to about 55 percent last year.


Wow, convenient.

I personally believe that is a crock. Our society is anal retentive when it comes to documentation in the corporate and government worlds precisely for the reason of accountability. In the day to day business of running society, just about everyone answers to someone and problems do/will happen. If you can't prove the who/what/when/where/why and how of your actions, then you are going to be the scapegoat and lose out. This is called job security........

But 55% of requests for information reference topics that don't have records.........it would seem reasonable that if there are about 3 million requests then a good deal of the motivations for information seekers were encountered via the media and most lilkely have been documented.

And we believe them.......?




Well, you can chock that up to the power of the flame. Er, i mean burning things. Ya know if the government is so haywire destroying documents, does this mean no hope of ever learning about et?



posted on Mar, 13 2005 @ 05:54 PM
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Originally posted by malakiem
Well, you can chock that up to the power of the flame. Er, i mean burning things. Ya know if the government is so haywire destroying documents, does this mean no hope of ever learning about et?



I wouldn't say no hope.......but highly unlikely. Alot of money and effort goes into information dissemination and that information is changing everyday.......I believe it was less than two months ago that the U.S. position on war with Iran was an official "NO" and now there is an ATSNN Thread that is reporting a that the U.S. will support and back war with Iran if Isreal commits..........

Also, take a look at the "bureaucratic method"........papers and papers of forms that need to be approved by a million officials before an action can be granted/committed, etc. It is designed into the system to create as much as a time lapse as possible for anything to occur. Businesses do it with money so that they can earn an extra days worth of interest(relevant in large sums) and it's done with ]information because in a week the "next big story" will have distracted any previous efforts........for the most part.

[edit on 13-3-2005 by MemoryShock]



posted on Mar, 13 2005 @ 08:30 PM
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Great piece mayet.

Official secrets plus government-written, produced and funded propaganda is a powerful package. Why didn't anyone else think of that?



posted on Mar, 13 2005 @ 09:10 PM
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So ... What can we do about it beside kvetch on a forum? Any ideas?



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