Jul 5, 2007

Happy Birthday FOIA!

Many folks missed this anniversary yesterday. The Freedom of Information Act turned 40 years old. This IS a big deal, especially with the Asshat-in-Chief mucking up the friggin works for the last 6+ years. A little history, thanks to ACLU’s Anthony D. Romero on the act that has come to be known simply by the initials FOIA:

The Act can trace its origins to the time of Joe McCarthy. The relevant background is as follows: In March 1954, newsman Edward R. Murrow set into motion the downfall of the demagogue senator, using McCarthy’s own words to show America his dark side. The centerpiece of the historic broadcast was actually a clip of McCarthy browbeating a witness over his one-time association with the “Communist-influenced” ACLU.

If anyone, in the history of Congress, symbolized secrecy in our government, it was that fucking blowhard Joe McCarthy. Of course that role has been given over to the Decider-in-Chief now..aka George Bush, our 43rd President. Accountability was missing back then and it took a scumbag like McCarthy to wake up American’s to the excesses of such powerful people. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” as the old saying goes. President Johnson on Independence Day 1966, and first implemented 40 years ago yesterday signed the FOIA.

FOIA, as Mr. Romero so eloquently states; “is essentially democracy’s x-ray. It’s the only way that the American people can look into the black-box of government policy making and make sure the government is doing what it says it’s doing or should be doing. In 1974, after Watergate exposed widespread civil liberties abuses by the intelligence community, Congress amended FOIA, over a presidential veto, to allow the public to request intelligence documents. After that, an additional load of illegal dirty laundry tumbled out of the CIA, the Pentagon and the FBI.”

Bush has of course done everything in his power to circumvent the FOIA. This jackass extraordinaire has tried his best to keep hidden and secret various issues and actions..like the torture at Guantanamo Bay Prison, warrantless wiretapping of Americans and the list goes on and on. Since 9/11, the courts have made it tough and in some cases impossible for the media and groups like the ACLU to shine a light on the secrets this administration holds close it its vest in areas such as the Departments of Defense, Justice and the White House.

Sadly, it can take decades of diligence and lawsuits by those committed to preserving our right to know. There are still FOIA requests from the Reagan administration traveling through the court systems and sitting on some freaking desk my dear reader. I shit you not. Five federal agencies have still not answered FOIA requests that have been pending for more than 15 years, with the oldest going back to 1987, a recent study by GWU’s National Security Archive found.

“Forty years after the law went into effect, we’re seeing 20 years of delay,” Archive Director Tom Blanton said of the FOIA, which took effect on July 4, 1967. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant, but this kind of inexcusable delay by federal agencies just keeps us in the dark.”

This is wrong on so many levels it boggles the mind. What are they keeping from us and why? The bastards also lie about what FOIA requests they still have outstanding..if that doesn’t scream volumes, I don’t know what does. “Ten agencies misreported their oldest pending FOIA requests to Congress in their FY 2006 Annual FOIA Reports, which are required by law,” the Archive study said. “These agencies include Agriculture’s Animal and Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Air Force, Commerce, CIA, Director of National Intelligence, FBI, National Science Foundation, State, Treasury, and Justice’s Office of Information and Privacy (OIP).”

So celebrate the birth of FOIA..but mourn the fact that our government is still treating us like the proverbial mushroom; keeping us in the dark and feeding us bullshit.

We need to shine the light of truth and freedom into the beady rat eyes of the liars running our government..because after all is said and done..It’s OUR country too you bastards.

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