Presidential Memorandum Lets Sun Shine On Government Secrecy

January 21, 2009 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – In a move intended to improve government transparency and accountability, the Obama administration today released a presidential memorandum directing government agencies to comply swiftly and thoroughly with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

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

“We’re greatly encouraged that the Obama administration has decided to let the sun shine in by making government transparency a priority. FOIA is an invaluable tool not just for reporters and advocacy organizations, but for all Americans. An accountable government is an effective government, and it can only be sustained when its citizens are fully informed.

“This memorandum reverses the Ashcroft Doctrine put in place by the Bush administration instructing agencies to withhold information whenever there is a ‘sound legal basis.’ It restores the presumption of disclosure and demands that agencies take affirmative steps to make information public rather than waiting for specific requests. This approach to FOIA is just the antidote we need to remedy the kind of opaque governing we saw during the last eight years. Sunshine is, indeed, the best of disinfectants and we have great hope for a new and untainted era of government.”

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