Department of Homeland Security to be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act?
July 1, 2002 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Department of Homeland Security to be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and the Whistleblower Protection Act? The last episode of NOW ran a piece on the FOIA which described how back in 1974 President Ford and his staff, which included Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, opposed Congress' strengthening of the FOIA, and Ford tried unsuccessfully to veto it. Now this new exemption looks like the continuation of a 28 year-old feud. Ridge says it is in order to not "draw a road map of critical infrastructure vulnerabilities," but are complete exemptions really necessary for that? The potential for abuse seems quite dangerous. (Some previous discussions of FOIA revelations here and here).
posted by homunculus (15 comments total)
The potential for abuse seems quite dangerous.

Metafilter understatement of the week.
posted by rushmc at 10:17 AM on July 1, 2002

Christ, this makes me angry. Must. Restrain. Self. From. Ranting. Uncontrollably.

Ridge's apparent claim that this is just for security purposes is ridiculous on its face: the FOIA already has exemptions for cases which supposedly would undermine national security. The whistleblower act exists to protect federal employees who reveal wrongdoing to Congress, not to the general public or to potential terrorists. There is no conceivable justification for this: it's a power grab, pure and simple.
posted by ook at 10:49 AM on July 1, 2002

I don't know about anyone else, but everytime I see that Ridge fellow on the news, I just get this MASSIVE feeling of distrust. I know nothing about him at all, but something inside me dislikes him immensely. Just that gut feeling kind of thing, which can be totally wrong, and has been in the past.
posted by a3matrix at 10:53 AM on July 1, 2002

Here's a Model Whistleblower Law, and news on other Whistleblower Legislation.
posted by sheauga at 11:12 AM on July 1, 2002


The land of the free and the home of the brave is, like, sooooooo over.

If Ridge thinks this is smart, guess what? The terrorists won.
posted by alumshubby at 11:23 AM on July 1, 2002

The potential for abuse seems quite dangerous.
Metafilter understatement of the week.

Woohoo! Do I get a prize?

There's an ACLU action alert of this.

Here's the action alert.
posted by homunculus at 11:29 AM on July 1, 2002

Hey, you guys in MetaFilter, watch what you say, as well as what you do, and quit bitching about these phantoms of lost liberty. You live in the freest nation in the world! Everything is fine.

It's cool watching one of the best laws passed by Congress in recent times go down in flames in the name of 'security.'
posted by insomnyuk at 11:30 AM on July 1, 2002

Do we have anything more substantive than this article... which seems long on assertions, but not terribly robust.

Skallas: could you give us a link to the ACLU action alert?

Also, wasn't King George pushing for this to be a non-cabinet-level agency, in order to by-pass Senate oversight regulations?
posted by silusGROK at 11:33 AM on July 1, 2002

From the NYT piece: "With questions and complaints growing about the legislation, Mr. Ridge assured lawmakers that the president would work with them on the details of the bill. "By definition, it's a work in progress," he said."

While I agree that the transparency of the government should be preserved, can't we at least wait to see what the final result is before declaring that the sky is falling?
posted by pardonyou? at 11:34 AM on July 1, 2002

No, pardonyou?, we can't. It's because people like us make such a stink that those in power wind up having to listen to our concerns. Otherwise, they will assume they have a green light to do whatever they see fit, and I (for one) don't think they always see the best solution.
posted by Irontom at 11:52 AM on July 1, 2002

I thought Paul Krugman put it well:

"It's interesting to note that the planned Department of Homeland Security, while of dubious effectiveness in its announced purpose, will be protected against future Colleen Rowleys: the new department will be exempted from both whistle-blower protection and the Freedom of Information Act."
posted by electro at 11:53 AM on July 1, 2002

"By definition, it's a work in progress," he said."

I think it's pretty clear that in this context "work in progress" means "we'll do whatever damage control we must if there's a fuss over this." Therefore, as Irontom says, we must fuss.
posted by rushmc at 11:55 AM on July 1, 2002

This is just bad. Bad bad bad.

So, let's see here. They use our own civillian transportation to attack us, from within. We further plant seeds of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt in the minds of our citizens by alienating them and stripping them of their basic rights. And using ALL of what has happened as an exscuse to further their policy reform. It makes me fucking sick to my stomach to see these fat beurocratic pigs go about what they do, and claim the whole time that it's for the good of the country.

I'm sick of feeling like a felon every time I try to take a plane flight. I didn't have anything illegal on me, and the bastards got me so paranoid, I started thinking maybe I was hiding a dirty bomb in my shoes! I'm just a typical white 21 year-old male. Baggy pants, sneakers and a t-shirt.

Just tell me one thing. When *DID* the cat get so fat?
posted by shadow45 at 1:32 PM on July 1, 2002

If you have had any experience with getting materials under the Freedom of Information Act you will know that this ban is not much different from what they do not give you without the ban. The FOI, in my experience, nest to useless in many instances, at least when I had tried to use it.
posted by Postroad at 3:01 PM on July 1, 2002

i'm just starting to not care anymore. it's depressing that most americans are totally unwilling to stop the administration from doing things like this, but they are unwilling. if i make myself care that much every other day when news like this comes out it's too depressing. and of course not caring any more is depressing too... oh well
posted by rhyax at 3:18 PM on July 1, 2002

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