03.19.09

Comment On FOIA Guidelines Issued By The Department Of Justice

The Justice Department today issued new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidelines for federal agencies.  In a letter sent to Attorney General Holder on February 23, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) offered several suggestions to guide the drafting of the new FOIA rules.  Earlier this week, Leahy joined with Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) to introduce the OPEN FOIA Act, which would require Congress to openly and clearly state its intention to provide for statutory exemptions to FOIA in proposed legislation.  Leahy was installed in the Freedom of information Act Hall of Fame in 1996, and is the 2009 recipient of the Robert Vaughn FOIA Legend Award. This week, the nation celebrates the fifth annual Sunshine Week.

“I am pleased that the Attorney General has moved quickly to issue new guidance on the Freedom of Information Act that restores the presumption of disclosure and openness for government information.  The right to know is a cornerstone of our democracy and it is fitting that we take this important step to reinvigorate FOIA during Sunshine Week.

“The new FOIA policy, which encourages the release of information to the people unless there is a foreseeable harm to the government, is a fresh and welcomed start to the new era of government responsibility.  The policy will better protect the public’s right to know and make our federal government more open and transparent.  I applaud the Attorney General’s demonstrated commitment to openness and to restoring the public’s trust in the government.”

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