Monday, August 30, 2004

Senator Leahy Bashes Bush Administration On Secrecy, Defends Freedom of Information

Support just keeps coming in from all corners in the struggle for the freedom of information, transparency, and accountability. U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy lights up the Bush Administration for excessive secrecy and non-cooperation with Congress in a cogent editorial in the Detroit Free Press:
The public's right to know is one of the foundations of our freedoms and our democracy. Knowing what our government is doing promotes accountability and trust and lubricates the checks and balances that make our system work.

That is why Congress' oversight role, reporting by a free press and tools like the Freedom of Information Act are so vital.

But the pendulum has swung so far away from openness in recent years that it is silently and steadily eroding the public's right to know. And when structural protections like FOIA are weakened, the erosion can be rapid, and lasting.

Ironically, at the same time government agencies are quietly...[gathering] more information about each of us, it is becoming harder for Americans to learn what government agencies are up to...rightly becom[ing] a serious concern for Americans, [and] sparking calls for greater openness.


[And]...when it comes to congressional oversight, cooperation from the current administration has been sparse and grudging...Oversight letters from Congress to the Justice Department have gone unanswered for months or even years...Attorney General John Ashcroft has been reluctant to appear before congressional oversight committees...and this, during a period when there is much to be accountable for.


We can count on government agencies to issue press releases when they do things right. We need the Freedom of Information Act so we also know when they do things wrong.


The free flow of information is a cornerstone of our democracy, and each generation of Americans must fiercely protect this right, for our own sake, and for the generations that will follow us.

Please go read the whole editorial. I've given about half of it here, and making edits was difficult to do, because the whole piece is nothing short of brilliantly stated, and deserves our full consideration.

God Bless Americans like Patrick Leahy.