How Orwellian of them

Public access to government information is vital to a functioning democracy.  That’s probably why the Justice Department is proposing this change to the Freedom of Information Act.  They’re working on further disappearing people and information now.   Is having a functioning democracy politically inconvenient or simply expedient in this age of terrorist games? This is one change that we should be fighting tooth and nail.

A proposed revision to Freedom of Information Act rules would allow federal agencies to lie to citizens and reporters seeking certain records, telling them the records don’t exist.

The Justice Department has proposed the change as part of a large revision of FOIA rules for federal agencies. Specifically, the rule would direct government agencies who are denying a request under an established FOIA exemption to “respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist,” rather than citing the relevant exemption.

The proposed rule has alarmed government transparency advocates across the political spectrum, who’ve called it “Orwellian” and say it will “twist” public access to government.

In a public comment regarding the rule change, the ACLU, along with Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and OpenTheGovernment.org, said the move “will dramatically undermine government integrity by allowing a law designed to provide public access to government information to be twisted to permit federal law enforcement agencies to actively lie to the American people.”

Anne Weismann, the chief counsel of CREW, said the Justice Department has a legitimate purpose behind the rules: to protect sensitive information about ongoing investigations. However, she said lying about the records “is an overbroad and improper response.”

“The problem is, if you’re a FOIA requester and the agency says they don’t have the records, you have no reason to doubt that,” Weismann said.“But if they cite an exemption, you have the option to sue.”

I can think of a number of records pertaining to our current wars as well as a variety of domestic terrorism criminal suits that could conveniently be disappeared.  Would this also extend to the request that got the FED to pony up its TARP details, or say, the request to see who visited the White House during the Health Care Reform debates like all those Big Pharma folks?

This is vital to a free and functioning press.  I know we don’t have much of that left, but a few reporters still actually take their jobs as journalists seriously.  This is also important for academics, lawyers, and a host of others who need the details to determine potential wrong doing or innocence.  This certainly means the government would be able to interpret what it wants to give you under a FOIA request.  This is a very bad thing.


20 Comments on “How Orwellian of them”

  1. Gregory says:

    I say we all get behind these new changes and become the greatest fascist state the World has ever known. Who needs friends and neighbors anyway? Who cares if they get disappeared for opening their trap? They are all annoying anyway. Hey, we’ve got the technology. We know how to use it. Lets one up East Berlin and spy on everyone. We already have the largest police force in the world and the largest prison system. Not going to take much to really do this right. Have Fox news just say it is what God wants.

    And while we are at it lets just make watching Fox News mandatory and have those TV’s up everywhere you go. Why not? A completely dis-informed and apathetic society is what our forefathers were striving for when they shed their blood, sweat, tears and often gave up their lives to construct this country and to give us all that we now take for granted.

    Who would have thought that freedom and liberty would crumble so easily. Knock over a couple of buildings. Kill a few thousand people and boom. It is all over. What took centuries to build, construct and to hone gone in a few short years. The science fiction writers always pushed this meme on us but I never dreamed it would be possible until a few years ago. Now, it seems inevitable. An uninformed population full of people who don’t give a damned about anyone but themselves and what placates them at the moment coupled with a bizarre group of power mad politicians is just to much to overcome.

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    This change could have huge implications, coupled with the idea the corporations are people…and that bank immunity plan floating around…and then you have the various laws which are trying to make video taping cops in action illegal, wikileaks being labeled a terrorist group, FBI using shady tactics to catch “criminals.” Whistleblowers being unfairly treated by the DOJ, the “free” press and politicians who are funded by corporation/people and a couple rich brothers…forget the idea of checks and balances…we are f’d!

    • Woman Voter says:

      Obama has continued Bush’s ‘Patriot Act’ that trumps the Constitution and he is going farther with these new suppressive laws and only a few people are complaining.

      • dm says:

        Obama is the new Nixon…but I said that before he was ever elected. He is crooked, corrupt, with a total absence of conscience.

  3. Woman Voter says:

    So much for transparency! Hope, change were all just musical mantras with no follow through. How far would the government with the power to hide or withhold information go? How can people still believe Obama/ Biden (I blame Biden more as he is the Good Ole Boyz Club on keeping power…and women quiet) this is transparency if they are seeking to withhold information from the people?

  4. dakinikat says:

    Is justice JUST ICE?

  5. Boo Radly says:

    Many government transparency advocates are alarmed. Investigative Reporters and Editors, along with the Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Professional Journalists, is protesting this removal of public information. IRE has also filed a FOIA request to receive the most recent version of this data set.

    The Association of Health Care Journalists, joined by the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors, sent a letter to the Obama administration today protesting its decision to pull offline a public database of physician discipline and malpractice payments.

    IRE/NICAR processed this data set from August and is making it publicly available online to anyone. The records were ‘disappeared Sept. 30, 2011. Those records effect our health care safety.

    Link: http://www.ire.org/NPDB/

    What Bu$hit did not disappear – BO is finishing up with the help of his DOJ.

    Words from the year 2000 – if Bu$h can be selected president – anyone will think they can be to.

    We are a banana republic. What is rule of law? The irony of BO as a constitutional lawyer, student of JD……….

    Those who are too busy, dis-interested in what is really happening – huge burden we are all paying for.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Well, I hope people do note, that there was dissension and that we weren’t all quietly going along to get along. Freedom Of Information is the foundation of a Free Society and the Democrats are failing us all by going along without questioning the Administration’s actions, just as they did when Bush II was in office.

  6. Peggy Sue says:

    This is a great way to make sure the ‘right’ people get to write the history. The victors always do that but if you want to make sure there is no way any light can possibly get in, you shut the lid and put a big fat lock on it. I’m stunned by the lengths the people in high places are willing to go, the laws they’re willing to trash to ensure their own survival and the implementation of their grand scheme of global . . . whatever. They’ve been cheating and lying with impunity, so I guess my surprise on this item is almost quaint. As for the journalists, the few that really exist? They should take a long hard gaze in the mirror. Their responsibility was to sound the fire alarm before the house burned down. They failed themselves and us, miserably.

    Sad days!

  7. ralphb says:

    From Joe Cannon, Tea Party Nation calls on employers not to hire anyone until Obama is gone. These are truly despicable and vile people behind this.

    A call for the “Atlases” to shrug

    A major teabagger website is calling on small business owners to put the “Atlas Shrugs” scenario to the real-world test. The baggers want all small business owners to stop hiring in order to protest what they hilarious call

    a globalist socialist agenda of redistribution of wealth, and the waging of class warfare against our constitutional republic’s heritage of individual rights, free market capitalism, and indeed our Constitution itself, with the ultimate goal of collapsing the U.S. economy and globalizing us into socialism.

    I, an American small business owner, part of the class that produces the vast majority of real, wealth producing jobs in this country, hereby resolve that I will not hire a single person until this war against business and my country is stopped.

    I hereby declare that my job creation potential is now ceased.

    “I’m on strike!”

    • Woman Voter says:

      The Herman Cain ppl are busy with the birthers and it is getting ugly. The problem lays at the feet of the bankers who haven’t released any funds to the small business sector. The Obama Administration should have kept the funds and granted the loans out themselves with the interest coming back to the people…as it stands now, there is no trickle down and that is hurting business. Small business is the engine of the economy and that is not moving because of Wall Street, and the Tea Party is aligned with the talking points for Wall Street contrary to their own interests.

      • Woman Voter says:

        Oh, the Herman Cain supporters have a video up (looks doctored) with Obama and Michelle supposedly admitting he was born in Kenya…it is getting ugly and the GOP is showing its true colors by stopping any hiring and putting no solutions forward.

      • ralphb says:

        There is almost never any trickle down. That shit is a paranoid delusion of Republicans. The only stimulus that would have really done a lot of good is trickle up of varying descriptions.