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Harry Truman understood the importance of open government in a free society. George W. Bush does not.

From the first days of his administration, President Bush has taken steps to tighten the government's hold on information and limit public scrutiny of its activities. Expansive assertions of executive privilege, restrictive views of the Freedom of Information Act, increasing use of national security classification, stonewalling in response to congressional requests for information - all these were evident even before the September 11 attacks. Since then, the clamps on information have only tightened.

Here, Public Citizen chronicles and documents the administration's obsession with secrecy, as well as the steps we, and others, are taking to fight it. By clicking on the links provided here, you can reach up-to-date summaries of each of the administration's major secrecy initiatives, with additional links from those summaries to key documents, such as executive orders, congressional materials, judicial decisions, and legal briefs filed by both sides in the court battles raging over these issues. We'll also provide links to other resources on the web, as well as information about how you can use the Freedom of Information Act to take on government secrecy yourself.

In the long run, we don't think Americans will put up with a government that operates on the principle of keeping them in ignorance. The more light we shine on these actions, the less likely they are to succeed.

   The Latest...

Secrecy Covered on Citizen Vox

Public Citizen will continue to shine a spotlight on any government attempts to keep secrets from the American people and will cover open government issues on its Citizen Vox blog. Check it out here!

Posted 01-22-2009 10:25 AM EDT


Presidential Records Are Property of the People

On Jan. 10, The New York Times published a poignant editorial (“Who Owns White House History?”)  that serves as a note to the departing administration, saying, in effect: President Bush – your records belong to everyone! The Presidential Records Act says so!

The editorial also expresses hopefulness that Congress will strike down a Bush executive order that says a current or former president can indefinitely withhold presidential papers.

“If there’s any delay, we urge President-elect Barack Obama to issue his own executive order restoring the Presidential Records Act as soon as he enters the White House,” the editorial states.

Here’s hoping that the era of secrecy is coming to an end!

Posted 01-12-2009 5:09 PM EDT


Secretive ‘Til the End

The lame-duck Bush administration is in its waning days, but its fondness for keeping secrets is as strong as ever …

On Jan. 9, Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the administration’s push to keep identities of White House visitors secret, according to The Associated Press.

The judge also said the government illegally disposed of Secret Service computer records.

The ruling was the latest step in a years-long battle for access to the visitors’ logs. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, requested the records in 2006.

Posted 01-12-2009 5:06 PM EDT


The Presidential E-mail Caper – This Time, the Good Guys Win!


Bush Secrecy: The Next Chapter?


Court: Miers, Bolton Don't Have to Testify on Court Rulings Yet

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