By Debbie Gregory.
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law that allows access to information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.
Now, Congress has been asked by a number of organizations to block new changes to the FOIA requested by the Defense Department, saying that approving them would allow the Pentagon to “excuse itself from the hard fought and necessary reforms.”
Before Congress passed the Freedom of Information Act in 1966, federal agencies were veiled in secrecy. Information was nearly impossible to get.
The proposal would give the Pentagon the ability to withhold information about unclassified tactics, techniques and procedures used by the Armed Forces.
A letter released by the Project On Government Oversight argues that the proposal is so broad “it could allow DoD to withhold almost any unclassified document at all related to Defense Department operations and could be used to justify concealing just about any material DoD creates.”
Those who advocate for transparency have called for the Pentagon to improve its adherence to FOIA.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform acknowledges that it is common for government agencies to use delay tactics to withhold information after a FOIA request has been filed, including sending letters in which an agency asks if a requester is still interested in information sought and says a request will be closed if the agency does not receive a response within days.