Let Freedom (of information) Ring…Again

One of the first issues of business that President Obama performed was to resuscitate the Freedom of Information Act, which suffered terribly under the Bush administration.

In his January 21, 2009 Memoranda to all Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, President Obama advised them to “adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.”

As many of us are painfully aware, former President George W. Bush’s administration was biased against the notion of an “open Government”. From the first days of his administration, Bush took steps to tighten the government’s hold on information and limit public scrutiny of its activities. He accomplished this through expansive assertions of executive privilege, and restrictive interpretations of the Freedom of Information Act.

To further remedy the actions of the past 8 years, Presdent Obama issued an Executive Order revoking former President George Bush’s Executive Order 13233 of November 1, 2001, which severely limited access by the public to presidential records.

These actions are a welcome blessing to the American people and to the notion of Democracy. In the words of President Harry S. Truman, “secrecy and a free, democratic government don’t mix.”


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