Friday, November 05, 2004


By William Fisher

“It's always a fight, to find out what the government doesn't want us to know. It's a fight we're once again losing…(President Bush) has clamped a lid on public access... It's not just historians and journalists he wants locked out; it's Congress... and it's you, the public and your representatives.”

These are the words of Bill Moyers, one of America’s most respected broadcast journalists. Moyers was press secretary to President Lyndon B. Johnson when Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in 1966. The Freedom of Information Act established the principle that the public should have broad access to government records.

In his “NOW’ program on US public television, Moyers condemns the Bush Administration’s penchant for secrecy. “We're told it's all about national security, but that's not so”, he says.

Now a comprehensive report issued by Congressman Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, supports Moyers’ view. It charges that “there has been a systematic effort by the Bush Administration to limit the application of the laws that promote open government and accountability…the Bush Administration has sought to curtail public access to information while expanding the powers of government to operate in secret.”

The Report alleges that both the American people and the US Congress are being denied access to millions of pages of documents to which they are entitled under law. It says, “The actions of the Bush Administration have resulted in an extraordinary expansion of government secrecy. External watchdogs, including Congress, the media, and nongovernmental organizations, have consistently been hindered in their ability to monitor government activities.”

The Report finds that “there has been a consistent pattern in the Administration’s actions: laws that are designed to promote public access to information have been undermined, while laws that authorize the government to withhold information or to operate in secret have repeatedly been expanded. The cumulative result is an unprecedented assault on the principle of open government.”

The Report claims that Administration secrecy has affected the work of the “9/11” Commission. It says that throughout its investigation the Bush Administration “resisted or delayed providing the Commission with important information. For example, the Administration’s refusal to turn over documents forced the Commission to issue subpoenas to the Defense Department and the Federal Aviation Administration. The Administration also refused for months to allow Commissioners to review key presidential intelligence briefing documents.”

The Report also alleges that the Administration has systematically withheld “a vast array“ of records from Congress. Subjects have ranged “from simple census data and routine agency correspondence to presidential and vice presidential records.” The documents that the Administration has refused to release to the public and members of Congress include ”the contacts between energy companies and the Vice President’s energy task force, communications between the Defense Department and the Vice President’s office regarding contracts awarded to Halliburton (a major defense contractor), documents describing the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib, memoranda revealing what the White House knew about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and cost estimates of the Medicare prescription drug legislation withheld from Congress.”

Designating documents as ‘classified’ has frequently provided the executive branch of the US Government with a rationale for concealment. In the 1990s, the Clinton Administration increased public access to government information by restricting the ability of officials to classify information and establishing an improved system for the declassification of information. The Waxman Report says, “These steps have been reversed under the Bush Administration, which has expanded the capacity of the government to classify documents and to operate in secret.”

The Report also alleges that the Administration “has supported amendments to ‘open government‘ laws to create new categories of protected information that can be withheld from the public…The Administration has expanded the authority to classify documents and dramatically increased the number of documents classified. It has used the USA Patriot Act and novel legal theories to justify secret investigations, detentions, and trials.”

The Report charges that the Bush Administration “has issued guidance instructing agencies to withhold a broad and undefined category of ‘sensitive’ information….”

Congress is among the victims, the Report says. “On over 100 separate occasions, the Administration has refused to answer the inquiries of, or provide the information requested” by Congressman Waxman in his role as the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Government Reform.

The information the Administration has refused to provide includes “documents requested by the ranking members of eight House Committees relating to the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere”, the Report says.

The passage of the Patriot Act after the September 11, 2001, attacks gave the Bush Administration new authority to conduct government investigations in secret, the Report notes. One provision of the Act expands the authority of the Justice Department to conduct secret electronic wiretaps. Another authorizes the Justice Department to obtain secret orders requiring the production of ‘books, records, papers, documents, and other items,’ and prohibits the recipient of these orders (such as a telephone company or library) from disclosing their existence. A third provision expands the use of ‘sneak and peak’ search warrants, which allow the Justice Department to search homes and other premises secretly without giving notice to the occupants. A Federal Court has recently overturned some of these provisions.

In addition to expanding secrecy in government by executive order and statute, the Report says the Bush Administration has used “novel legal interpretations” to expand its authority to detain, try, and deport individuals in secret. The Administration asserted the authority to “hold persons designated as ‘enemy combatants’ in secret without a hearing, access to a lawyer, or judicial review; conduct secret military trials of persons held as enemy combatants when deemed necessary by the government; and conduct secret deportation proceedings of aliens deemed ‘special interest cases’ without any notice to the public, the press, or even family members.” The Supreme Court has ruled recently that ‘enemy combatants’ are entitled to hearings and to legal counsel.

The reporting of one of America’s leading news magazines, US News and World Report, supports the Waxman findings. The magazine wrote, “For the past three years, the Bush administration has quietly but efficiently dropped a shroud of secrecy across many critical operations of the federal government--cloaking its own affairs from scrutiny and removing from the public domain important information on health, safety, and environmental matters. The result has been a reversal of a decades-long trend of openness in government…”

Another Administration critic, Roger Pilon, vice president of legal affairs for the Cato Institute, a Washington, DC, think tank, says, "Tightly controlling information, from the White House on down, has been the hallmark of this administration."

And Jane Kirtley, Professor of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota, says: “Government does make mistakes. And I don't think the public demands infallibility from its government…Accountability is what we demand. And we should have the tools that make it possible for us to compel the government to tell us what it's up to, how it's carrying out our business and to instruct the government to take corrective steps when mistakes are made.”


  1. Wow, what a great site. I will bookmark this site and return often. It's nice to see sites like this.

    Please visit my website and let me know what you think. Tell your Secret

  2. Hi,

    you really have a very nice blog here! I'm definitely going to bookmark you!

    I have a site dealing with seo cleveland. You are heartly invited to take some really good tips from it.

    Come and check it out if you get time :-)

  3. As many links as you want!

  4. Have you listed your blog in a blog directory?

    "cubs blog" is what I used to find your blog on google

    cubs blog

  5. I am totally nude come see me. Take a bit for all pics and movies to load.

    Why do I do this I like to make men blow their jiz in their pants.

    Visit me.性爱

  6. I like your blog, please list it on my favourite Blog Directory.

    It has lots of links to radio blog club blogs

    William MacDonald

  7. nice blog enjoyed it :)

    Keep up the excellent work! and i bookmarked u!

    so cant wait for ur next post! :)


  8. nice blog enjoyed it :)

    Keep up the excellent work! and i bookmarked u!

  9. Awesome - Save $50 on a playstation 2...Whoopee!!

    This is a great site people!

  10. Get your website seen use our affiliate marketing promotion site web tools to get the word out and take the work out of promotion. Resale rights available. Starting at only $6.99 get 1000's of links to your website

  11. I like blogs about engine optimization pricing search. If you are interested in web design related topics such as engine optimization pricing search

  12. And on a lighter note than pure trial version , check out the funniest trial transcript ever! If it's not serious enough of a topic, well, just pretend it's the Brit's version of trial version !

  13. I was surfing around and found another george bush guitar bush guitar This place has a ton of funny videos and mp3s.

  14. I enjoyed your marine iraq blog. You might enjoy this news discussion forum also. **News Discussion Forum**

  15. Great site!

    Please check out my blog- Electronics

    Or your my be interested in my other site- Electronics where you can find Electronics

  16. You'd like via an unsubscribe link at the end of Each Newsletter Publication.

  17. I discuss this topic daily myself. I also have a website that talks about online survey that pay money related things. Go check it out if you get a chance.

  18. I would like to say this is a great blog about canadian make money online. I think alot of you might be interested in my site too. Click the Link below to visit my site.
    Click Here


  19. Great Blog you have here!
    I'm definitely going to bookmark this one.
    Do you know DOT WS (website) will be larger than DOT COM (commercial) ?
    Remember 800 phone numbers? Now you have 888 877 etc.
    Are you a visionary? I hope you are and decide to get in on something
    that will change your life! GDI is where its at.
    7 day free trial and no selling
    Want a short .WS domain name? Now you can get one and make affiliate $$$$$$$
    You get your own website
    Check this one out :-)available domain nameavailable domain name

  20. I like your blog. I just wanted to reccommend a website that has generated 3/4 of a Million $. This is hands-down the hottest turn-key business solution you have seen in your entire life. It just launched. Go here immediately: software.

  21. While surffing I came across your blog. I have software sales site that has a lot of products related to promotion promotion site web web web A lot of people whos purchase scripts or software having to deal with promotion promotion site web web web ask for more information and I will definatly tell them to check out your site. Do keep up the great work!

  22. In order to succeed online one needs two things - a killer web site and a steady stream of potential customers. Get both at

  23. Search engine optimization, submission and highly-targeted traffic can be found exclusively at

  24. Hi Thanks for your interesting blog. I also have a blog/site, covering work at home related stuff. Feel free to visit my work at home site.

  25. For great prices and those hard to get items just check us out at

  26. Search engine optimization, submission and highly-targeted traffic can be found exclusively at

  27. free downloads

    free downloads of software, php scripts, audio, ebooks and seminar interviews. Make work from home incredibly easy
    free downloads

  28. Free downloads in my bonus area. start a rush of traffic to your website and build your income from home

  29. downloads, web traffic virus,plus the largest collection of software and php script for download on the internet.
    let web traffic virus drive targeted traffic to your website.

  30. Great blog you have here, I will definitely be back. I have a website that might be of interest to you. It has products at wholesale prices, great place to hang out.
    wholesale ribbon

  31. I was just searching blogs,and I found your site, Friend! I like it!
    Please accept my compliments and wishes for your happiness and success.
    If you have a moment, please take a look at my site:
    make big money selling websites from home
    It pretty much covers make big money selling websites from home related issues.
    All the best!

  32. Hello there, I was recently doing a search through blogs for the keyphrase make money online. I happened to come across yours even though it wasn't particularly related to what I searched for. I figured I wouldn't mind contributing to your blog by commenting it. I've been quite busy to work on my blog lately but I am interested in topics being generally related to what I search for. I know you may not think this is an appropriate post to your blog, however I would just like to compliment you on your blog and I wish you well in future endeavors with it,



    p.s. I like to take a look at other blogs to get some ideas as to how I am going to form mine. make money online is related to my future blog building.

  33. Christmas is just around the corner. No time to go to the mall...then do your shopping online. We sell everything that the mall sells. Shop today!

  34. Wow what a cool blog you have here! I am impressed. You really put a lot of time and effort into this. I wish I had your creative writing skills, progressive talent and self- discipline to produce a blog like you did. Your blog really does deserve an honest compliment. If you have some time, stop by my site. It deals with stuff like, click here: homebusiness and then feel free to e-mail me with your words of wisdom.

    P.S. I'll sure put the word out about your site and I would appreciate any business you may send my. way... Later, Scott.

  35. Hi, thanks so much for every little bit of information you have provided here. I constantly look up all information concerning make money from online business I'm amazed by how much I can earn online :-) Thanks again. make money from online business

  36. Congradulations on your blog! NOW, check this out, You can join a program that starts at only $7 then the costs go down. Down, Down, Down. It only takes 5 minutes to set up your international account!

    To find out more visit: homebusiness site. It successfully exposes FREE information and covers homebusiness related stuff.