FOIA Not Fixed Yet: Senate Panel

October 7, 2009

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says Congress has to do more to fix the Freedom of Information Act — especially stemming the hundreds of special exemptions created by Congress itself.

At a hearing September 30, 2009, the Judiciary Committee heard Associated Press CEO Tom Curley call these exemptions a "black hole." Leahy and Sen. John Cornyn (D-TX) have introduced a bill (S 612) to end the invisibility of the exemptions. Under it, Congress would have to explicitly declare every new exemption it created.

"We in the news media are still finding federal agencies unresponsive to the declarations from the White House that government must become more open," Curley told the panel. "We appreciate the change in policy direction. But the change hasn’t yet reached the street, and a stronger FOIA is still the public’s best defense against harmful government secrecy."