Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Government secrecy put on trial

Endless delays. Inflated costs. Stonewalling officials.

And in at least one case, redactions made in duct tape.

Welcome to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — bureaucracy’s house of horrors and the subject of a two-day hearing in the House this week aimed at spotlighting what lawmakers say is a broken system.

While FOIA was passed to bring the government’s work into the light, it has resulted in the creation of a maddening system that thwarts reporters, advocacy groups and lawyers at every turn.

Members of both parties have expressed increasing frustration over the backlog in obtaining open records and the slow-walking of requests, with the scrutiny amplified by the battle over access to Hillary Clinton’s emails at the State Department.

“What’s frustrating for reporters, open government organizations and members of the public is that the Obama administration made a really strong commitment to transparency at the beginning of their tenure,” said Adam Marshall, a legal fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.


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