Legislation Introduced To Strengthen Freedom of Information Act

March 18, 2009

ACLU Welcomes Change To FOIA Law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (202) 675-2312 or media@dcaclu.org  

WASHINGTON – The Senate this week signaled its intention to improve government transparency as Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced legislation to improve and strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The OPEN FOIA Act’s introduction follows a January presidential memorandum directing government agencies to comply swiftly and thoroughly with FOIA requests. The American Civil Liberties Union welcomes the legislation.

FOIA is a critical tool to improve government transparency. In recent years, the government has released many documents, including two Justice Department memos authorizing the CIA's use of torture, records about civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, and FBI documents showing its improper use of surveillance tools as a result of ACLU lawsuits brought under the FOIA that have proved invaluable to public debate and policy making. However, the government has fought disclosure every step of the way, and improvements to the FOIA law are vital to making transparency a priority.

The following can be attributed Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“FOIA is not only an invaluable tool for the ACLU, other advocacy organizations and reporters, but for all Americans. Transparency should be a priority and our government should lead the way. A transparent government is an effective and accountable government. Democracy can only exist when its citizens are free to examine its inner workings. FOIA will be a key weapon in dismantling the wall of secrecy that encircled our government last eight years. We applaud Senators Leahy and Cornyn for introducing this bill.”

For more information on the ACLU’s use of FOIA, go to:
www.aclu.org/spyfiles

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