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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Aug > Aug 9

Secrecy News -- 08/09/07

From: Steven Aftergood <saftergood.nul>
Date: Thu, 09 Aug 2007 15:00:01 -0400
Archived: Thu, 09 Aug 2007 15:39:17 -0400
Subject: Secrecy News -- 08/09/07


SECRECY NEWS
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2007, Issue No. 82
August 9, 2007


**	FOIA PERFORMANCE IS DETERIORATING, JOURNALISTS SAY
**	ACLU SEEKS FOREIGN INTEL SURVEILLANCE COURT RECORDS
**	CRS REPORTS ON OPENNESS AND TRANSPARENCY


FOIA PERFORMANCE IS DETERIORATING, JOURNALISTS SAY

If the Leahy-Cornyn bill to strengthen the Freedom of
Information Act that was adopted in the Senate last week becomes
law, as expected, it will not happen a moment too soon, because
current government handling of FOIA requests is deteriorating,
according to a new analysis from the Coalition of Journalists
for Open Government (www.cjog.net).

"Over the past nine years, the number of FOIA requests processed
has fallen 20%, the number of FOIA personnel is down 10%, the
backlog [of pending requests] has tripled, and costs of handling
a request are up 79%," the CJOG study reported.

In fact, "the cost of processing FOIA requests is up 40% since
1998, even though agencies are processing 20% fewer requests."

Productivity of FOIA requests has dropped in other respects as
well.

"The number of denials [of FOIA requests] increased 10% in 2006
and the number of full grants, in which the requester got all
the information sought, hit an all-time low."

See "Still Waiting After All These Years: An in-depth analysis
of FOIA performance from 1998 to 2006," principally authored by
Pete Weitzel, Coalition of Journalists for Open Government,
August 8, 2007:

http://www.cjog.net/documents/Still_Waiting_Narrative_and_Charts.pdf


ACLU SEEKS FOREIGN INTEL SURVEILLANCE COURT RECORDS

The American Civil Liberties Union filed an unusual motion with
the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court this week seeking
public disclosure of recent Court orders interpreting the
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the law that
regulates warrantless surveillance within the United States.

"Over the next six months, Congress and the public will debate
the wisdom and necessity of permanently expanding the
executive's authority to conduct intrusive forms of surveillance
without judicial oversight," the ACLU motion stated, referring
to the debate over the recent amendments to the FISA that will
sunset in six months if they are not renewed.

"Unless this Court releases the sealed materials, this debate
will take place in a vacuum."

"Publication of the sealed materials would assist the public in
evaluating the significance of recent amendments to FISA and
determining for itself whether those amendments should be made
permanent," the ACLU argued.

A copy of the August 8 ACLU Motion for Release of Court Records
is posted here:

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fisa/aclu080807.pdf

An ACLU press release on the motion is here:

http://www.aclu.org/safefree/spying/31227prs20070808.html

The ACLU motion admitted that the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court's docket "consists mainly of material that is
properly classified." However, it noted, "on at least two
occasions in the past, this Court has recognized the public
interest in the Court's [activities] and has accordingly
published its rulings."

"Disclosure of the sealed materials, with redactions to protect
information that is properly classified, would be consistent
with the Court's past practice and procedural rules," the ACLU
said.


CRS REPORTS ON OPENNESS AND TRANSPARENCY

Recent reports of the Congressional Research Service on topics
related to openness and transparency include the following.

"Does Price Transparency Improve Market Efficiency? Implications
of Empirical Evidence in Other Markets for the Health Sector,"
July 24, 2007:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/secrecy/RL34101.pdf

"State E-Government Strategies: Identifying Best Practices and
Applications," July 23, 2007:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/secrecy/RL34104.pdf

"Clinical Trials Reporting and Publication," updated July 12,
2007:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL32832.pdf

"Freedom of Information Act Amendments: 110th Congress," updated
July 10, 2007:

http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/secrecy/RL32780.pdf



_______________________________________________
Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the
Federation of American Scientists.

The Secrecy News Blog is at:
http://www.fas.org/blog/secrecy/

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_______________________
Steven Aftergood
Project on Government Secrecy
Federation of American Scientists
web:  www.fas.org/sgp/index.html
email: saftergood.nul
voice: (202) 454-4691



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