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Let the Sunshine In

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March 17, 2010

The last signs of Snowpocalypse have long since disappeared, and the cherry blossoms are starting to peek through. Spring is making its triumphant return. But even though we’ve got an extra hour of daylight to look forward to, some folks in our nation’s capital seem determined to stay out of the sun.

Which is too bad — it is Sunshine Week, after all.

At best, you could say that President Obama’s promise of increased government transparency has had mixed results. On the one hand, the president took steps in the right direction when he issued a new government directive and an executive order to reduce secrecy. On the other hand, the government continues to withhold key information about everything from the prisoners at Bagram, to the use of predator drones to target and kill people, to deaths in immigration detention. And according to an Associated Press review of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reports filed by 17 government agencies, use of almost all of the FOIA’s nine exemptions to withhold information from the public actually rose in fiscal year 2009.

And it just keeps coming. Just this week — Sunshine Week! — in response to a long-standing ACLU FOIA lawsuit for information related to the torture of prisoners in U.S. custody overseas, the CIA actually blacked out a letter that was already public. Michael Isikoff has images and commentary over at Newsweek.

The American people need to know the extent of abuses that have taken place in their name. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: we can’t sweep the abuses of the past under a rug. It’s time to do some spring cleaning, and bring the facts into the light.