A Rare Victory For Congress

Happy New Year!

At the end of a difficult year for Democrats both here and in Congress, they actually scored a victory in the final moments of 2007 that was left unreported; buried by Times Square and the upcoming Iowa Caucus.

President Bush signed into law, grudgingly, a bill that countered his administration's long tradition of secrecy since 9/11.

At a time when Congress hasn't had many victories and hasn't fought back as hard as we would like, they scored one quiet victory last night. Since no one seems to be hearlding it anywhere, I'll use my first diary of 2008 to do it myself;

<>President Bush on Monday signed a bill aimed at giving the public and the media greater access to information about what the government is doing. The new law toughens the Freedom of Information Act, the first such makeover to the signature public-access law in a decade. It amounts to a congressional pushback against the Bush administration's movement to greater secrecy since the terrorist attacks of 2001.

Bush signed the bill without comment in one of his final decisions of the year.

The legislation creates a system for the media and public to track the status of their FOIA requests. It establishes a hot line service for all federal agencies to deal with problems and an ombudsman to provide an alternative to litigation in disclosure disputes.

The law also restores a presumption of a standard that orders government agencies to release information on request unless there is a finding that disclosure could do harm.

Agencies would be required to meet a 20-day deadline for responding to FOIA requests. Nonproprietary information held by government contractors also would be subject to the law.

The legislation is aimed at reversing an order by former Attorney General John Ashcroft after the 9/11 attacks in which he instructed agencies to lean against releasing information when there was uncertainty about how doing so would affect national security.

Unless I'm missing something, this is a big deal. The secrecy of the Bush administration has made it easier for them to rip the Constitution to shreds. Now, we have a new law aimed at making it easier for us and the MSM to dig into the goings ons in the last year of the Bush White House. <>

I can't seem to understand how, with Republicans in Congress still backing the President on many of his fascist policies, they allowed this to get through without a fight. I've been trying to search for where the Democrats had to compromise to get this passed and can't seem to find anything. Could it be true? Did Democrats actually score a victory here? The fact that Bush signed this, on New Year's Eve, two days before the Iowa caucus without so much as a peep makes me think so.

Now let's see is the MSM makes full use of these new rules. So far, they haven't been impressive in reporting this. It took me 15 minutes of reading headlines before I found this story on yahoo.

Tags: 110th congress, bush administration, Freedom of Information Act, George W. Bush, John Ashcroft, Justice Department, National Security, open government (all tags)

Comments

1 Comment

Re: A Rare Victory For Congress

Yes, but did he issue a "signing statement" to go along with it?  In his terms, he ususally does whatever he pleases, regardless of what the law is.

by susie 2008-01-01 11:30AM | 0 recs

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