09.17.09

Comment On FOIA Provisions In The Senate-Passed Intelligence Authorization Act

The Senate on September 16 unanimously passed S. 1494, the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010.

“I am very pleased that the Intelligence Authorization Act contains several improvements that I recommended to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  I am particularly pleased that we were able to reach an agreement to delete a broad and unnecessary exemption to FOIA’s disclosure requirements for terrorist identity information.

“No one would quibble with the notion that our government can -- and should -- keep some information secret to protect our national security.  But, in the case of terrorist identity information, our government has successfully withheld this sensitive information under the existing FOIA exemptions for classified and law enforcement information.  In addition, the many instances of mistaken identities and other errors on terrorist watchlists and ‘no-fly’ lists make it clear that FOIA can be a valuable tool to help innocent Americans redress and correct mistakes on these lists.

“I am also pleased that we were able to agree on a carefully-crafted compromise to help ensure both effective information sharing among our intelligence agencies and the free flow of information to the American public.

“Balancing our national security and intelligence gathering efforts with a free and open government remains one of our greatest challenges.  The 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act advances both of these goals.”

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