Sunshine on My Government Makes Me Happy
Published: March 17, 2009
Wired's Danger Room today is honoring Sunshine Week, an effortof the American Society of Newspaper Editors, bydiscussing all of the ways the Pentagon and other governmentagencies havekept public information hidden from view by rejecting their media requests using the Freedom of Information Act.
Since I'm an investigative reporter at heart, I stand shoulder to shoulder with them on this one. There are many ways reporters get information -- sources, witnesses, being there but the governments Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, is a crucial tool muckrakers use to expose government wrongdoing and corruption to the public. The journalist association Investigative Reporters and Editors even gives a highly-respected annual award for best use of FOIAs.
So its also a good time to note that in the nascent Obama-Gates Pentagon, "transparency" has not exactly been the word of the day. So far we've had spokesman Geoff Morrell's memorable "I dont think the administration has been advocating transparency in national security matters" comment, which followed news that Secretary Gates made top officials sign non-disclosures on their budget planning. And the Pentagon has been remarkably tight-lipped about the details of promised cuts that have defense contractors whispering worriedly at cocktail parties Washington and clutching their chests.
Additionally, to great fanfare President Obama, Gates, and JCS Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen announced they were ending the secrecy shroud over media coverage of the caskets returning to Dover from war by announcing the creation of a task force to devise the new policy -- and then kept its membership shrouded in secrecy.
Its early, sure, but we'll be watching as the year progresses.