At a time when the federal government has rapidly increased the number of documents being classified, we do well to honor those who insisted that Congress improve government transparency. After that nod to the past, press your Congressman to reverse the trend in secrecy since 9-11.
This is not a partisan issue. Opening comments from 15 March 2005 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing:
"Freedom of information and openness in government are among the most fundamental founding principles of our government. The Declaration of Independence makes clear that our inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness may be secured only where 'Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.'"Editor and Publisher writes that the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government (CJOG) recently analyzed FOIA requests for fiscal 2005. They found:
-- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.)
"The public's right to know, backed up by FOIA, is a cornerstone of our democracy, guaranteeing a free flow of information that delivers America's promise of government by, of, and for the people."
-- Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
The number of unfulfilled requests at the end of fiscal 2005 was 148,603, a backlog of 31%. That's a big increase from 2004's 20% backlog -- and comes despite a decline in the number of requests, the coalition found.
Some agencies were particularly woeful. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), for instance, had a backlog of 131%. The median waiting time for "complex" SEC requests was 410 working days in fiscal 2005, double what it was the year before, CJOG found. (For a frame of reference, there are 261 federal working days in a year.)
Edited to add E&P quote.