Everyone knows, or should know, just how secretive the Federal Government has become under the Bush Administration.
The Freedom of Information Act is a tool with which Citizens can obtain first-hand information being generated by the bureaucracy, to use this information to lay bare the inner workings of OUR Republic.
Now, I live out here in the middle of the woods…because I hold my privacy penultimate, any snoops, lost citizens, or Jehovahs are announced by my “band of mutts”, long before they are even half way down this old dead end road.
The first European part of of my family arrived in 1630 (known as the “Planters”, for you History buffs). The other branch of my family were already here. So, I would have to say to any Republican who dared to call what I believe, treason, well, I wouldn’t say, I’ld probably just deck him (boomans not the only one with a strong sense of personal justice).
But, I don’t trust the bastards. And I own this government. I want to know just what they are doing, at ALL times.
The FOIA request is not all that complicated to do. Anyone with even a limited ability to fill in paperwork, wait a long time, and be able to write a check, can file one.
But what has occurred over the past few years, is subtle, and not so subtle sabotage of these requests, by Federal Departments.
“Since September 11, 2001, several important trends have affected access to federal documents and information. First and foremost, the federal government is keeping more information away from the public. In July 2005, The New York Times reported that the government in a single year (2004) classified more than 15 million pages, while declassifying only 28 million pages.”
This alone would be a big reason why our Traditional Media have made limited use of these requests. After all, what’s the point, everything’s a secret! (Mostly though, I just think it’s lazy “jurnaralism”.)
The second reason these requests have been a frustrating experience is plain and simple bureacratic backlog.
“the number of requests that agencies received increased by 71 percent from 2002 to 2004.” Agencies also reported that “they have been processing more requests — 68 percent more from 2002 to 2004…. For 92 percent of requests processed in 2004, agencies reported that responsive records were provided in full to requesters.”9 However, the GAO report noted that “the number of pending requests carried over from year to year — known as the backlog — has been increasing, rising 14 percent since 2002.”
But there is a third impediment now thrown into the mix.
When it comes to FOIA requests, many government agencies employ a delaying strategy. And the strategy seems to be effective. Reports, articles, documentaries, news reports must be written and filed without requested FOIA information. The agencies can embrace this practice and suffer no penalties or consequences, even when the requests come from the press.
But Wait! There’s a fourth way to bottle up these Citizens.
The removal of unclassified documents has led to a fourth trend. More and more unclassified documents previously available “are now barred to the public and identified as `sensitive but unclassified’ or `for official use only.
Now before you think I’m some sort of federal practice wonk, the article to trigger this writing can be found here
But the most excellent part of this article is the footnotes, and humongus list of “Web sites, blogs, listservs, and newsletters that could help clients needing access to government documents but who might experience difficulty locating that information.”
I stopped counting them after about thirty or so, and I was only half way through….!
So no great prescient thoughts here, no call for direct actions, just lending some tools to the neighbors. And now to bed.