The right of the people to know, and the ability to hold government accountable, rests on an open and transparent government and a free press.
Congress has largely abdicated its oversight responsibility. Instead, journalists, advocates and muckrakers must dig for the truth, using the Freedom of Information Act and state and local Public Records laws to liberate government documents. Whistleblowers play a vital role exposing government wrong-doing and ineptitude, but are often prosecuted. In recent years, the war on transparency has escalated as more government workers are prohibited from speaking with the media, and retaliation against whistleblowers gets ever more vicious.
The rule of law has been turned on its head, when crimes are made public (such as the war crimes exposed by Chelsea Manning, the CIA torture program exposed by John Kiriakou, or the NSA/FBI mass surveillance exposed by Edward Snowden), it is the whistleblower, not the war criminals and torturers who are prosecuted.
Until we can abolish for-profit prisons, let’s at lease make sure they aren’t allowed to continue to operate in total secrecy. It’s time to close the FOIA loophole for private prisons.
Private prison companies that receive federal funding provide the same service as government agencies, but, by asserting their status as private entities, claim that they are not subject to public records laws such as the FOIA.
We have a chance to rein in mass surveillance, by demanding Congress support serious reforms of Section 702, like requiring a warrant to access our communications or preventing such communications from being swept up and stored in a database in the first place.
Defending Rights & Dissent Joins Transparency Groups in Trying to Prevent CIA from Destroying Records
The CIA recently received tentative approval from the National Archives and Records Administration to destroy files that allegedly have no historical significance. Defending Rights & Dissent joined the National Security Archives, OpenTheGoverment, and Demand Progress in submitting comments opposing the planned destruction of documents.
Rights Groups File FOIA to Uncover Details About Police Use of Force, Infiltration of Inauguration Protests
DC National Lawyers Guild (DC NLG) and Defending Rights and Dissent, two groups who defend the right to protest, are demanding answers about the Metropolitan Police Department’s conduct during anti-Trump inauguration protests.