Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Office of Government Information Services.

The Office of Government Information Services which was created to resolve FOIA disputes, has apparently created one instead.

A training was offered Monday to FOIA public liaisons, those charged with surrendering, or not, public records to public knowledge.

"The Monday workshop was organized by the Justice Department's Office of Information Policy for agency FOIA public liaisons. It was held in part to introduce them to the new U.S. Office of Government Information Services, set up under the Cornyn legislation to resolve FOIA disputes." link.
The training was closed to the public. An AP reporter who showed up was turned away at the door.

The situation stands in rather stark contrast to assurances
by President Obama offered when he took office.
"The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails," Obama told government offices on his first full day as president. "The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears."
Not everything that the government does with your power and your resources should be public knowledge. The line between what should and should not be made public is the bone of contention.

There are those who argue, in effect, everything is secret unless you can build a compelling case that it is not. All records are secret, all meetings are secret, unless you can prove that they are not; a process which often requires filing lawsuits against the government.

On the other hand, some argue that all records are public, and all meetings are open, unless the government can build a compelling case that they are not.

It is an important distinction.

Either public records are kept secret according to what the law allows, or public records are kept secret only as the law requires. There is a world of difference.

There is a fundamental flaw in the process of redaction of public records. Rather than having redaction done by impartial third parties, the redaction is done instead by the politicians and public servants with an interest in keeping some facts secret. There is an inherent conflict of interest.

What more proof in necessary, that we have lost control over power and resources that belong fundamentally to the people, than that the facts over the wielding of that power and the spending of those resources can be kept secret from us, according to the whim of politicians and public servants?

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