Friday Tidings
8/22/16 at 03:45 PM 0 Comments

Everything You Need To Know*

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*and can try to ask for

It’s a golden anniversary of sorts. During the summer of 1966, President Johnson reluctantly signed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) into law. He wasn’t exactly a proponent that government information would have to be released to citizens who asked to see it.

Ever since, both Republican and Democratic administrations have dealt with hundreds of FOIA requests. This has led to plenty of complaints about the government’s reluctance to disclose information.

It seems as though the government and/or its leaders are reticent to release documents that could expose wrong doing.

Before FOIA, citizens had to prove why they felt something was awry—not an easy task with the government holding the evidence. Recently Flint, Michigan’s toxic water debacle was exposed by determined folks demanding answers via the FOIA.

Some in government refer to the FOIA as an “act of war”. Rather than being FOIA’d, government employees have sought ways to “shuffle papers” and most recently, a presidential candidate used a private email server that could potentially circumvent FOIA investigation.

Even though President Obama promised to be the most transparent administration, backlogs of FOIA requests are at record levels. Indeed, 77% of those requesting information have received nothing or only partial files—after waiting months. A solution would be to offer access to all non-classified documents without delays—no special requests required. That’s the transparency we need (and deserve) But alas, that may never happen. So we should celebrate a Congress and reluctant president in 1966 for giving us the FOIA. Happy 50th Anniversary.

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