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CIA Tries to Withhold Information That Is Already Public

The CIA has refused to allow Valerie Wilson, who was outed as an intelligence operative after her husband criticized the Bush administration, to publish her memoir because it discusses how long she worked for the agency, according to The New York Times.

The CIA says the information, which was classified, still is classified - even though it has been published in the Congressional Record. For that reason, the agency says, Wilson can’t put it in her book.

So Wilson filed a lawsuit yesterday in a New York federal court.

“The CIA’s effort to classify public domain information is an unreasonable attempt at prior restraint of publication and a violation of our First Amendment rights,” said Adam Rothberg, a spokesman for planned book publisher - and fellow plaintiff in the lawsuit suit - Simon & Schuster, in the Times.

The CIA is sticking to its position, saying the information’s disclosure was a mistake.


Posted 06-01-2007 3:48 PM EDT


Public Citizen Argues for Release of Hepatitis B Vaccine Information

Giving the parents of a boy who was disabled by a hepatitis B vaccine information about the use of the vaccine in the United States would not cause competitive harm to manufacturers Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, Public Citizen has told a federal court.

On May 23, Public Citizen attorney Michael Kirkpatrick argued before a federal court in Miami that the parents’ Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for a breakdown by lot of the doses of the vaccine should be granted.

Access to this information would allow the public and independent researchers to determine whether particular vaccine lots have a higher rate of adverse events. Adverse events are reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but without knowing how many doses from a certain lot have been used, researchers cannot calculate and compare the adverse event rate for the vaccines.

In March 2003, plaintiffs Dr. and Mrs. Robert Sharkey of Fort Myers, Fla., filed a FOIA request for information on the net number of doses in each lot of hepatitis B vaccine used in the United States. The request was filed on behalf of their son, 11-year-old Ryan Reed Sharkey, who is permanently disabled after having a severe adverse reaction to a hepatitis B vaccine in 1995. Sharkey v. FDA and Merck was filed in November 2004 after the FDA refused to release the requested documents, claiming that the data contained confidential commercial information.

For more information about the case, look here.


Posted 05-30-2007 5:08 PM EDT


Cheney Wants to Keep His Visitors Secret

Vice President Dick Cheney’s office apparently doesn’t want anyone to know exactly who’s visiting him at his residence.

A newly released letter  from Cheney’s lawyer, dated last September, tells the Secret Service that it should not keep any copies of information about the visitors to Cheney’s residence.

The letter was posted on the Web site of the Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which has filed a lawsuit seeking the identities of conservative religious leaders who had visited the vice president at his official residence.

For more information about the letter, look here.


Posted 05-30-2007 4:33 PM EDT


Who’s Making Global Warming Political Today? The Smithsonian

Apparently concerned about upsetting lawmakers or the Bush administration, the Smithsonian toned down an Arctic climate change exhibit last year - doing such things as altering the text of the exhibit to make the relationship between global warming and humans seem more uncertain, according to The Associated Press.

Robert Sullivan, who used to be the associate director in charge of exhibitions at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (he resigned last fall), says the museum’s leaders didn’t want to anger politicians, although he did acknowledge that he knew of no one in the administration who pressured the Smithsonian.

“The obsession with getting the next allocation and appropriation was so intense that anything that might upset the Congress or the White House was being looked at very carefully,” Sullivan said.

The White House says that it had “no role” in the exhibit.



Posted 05-22-2007 2:32 PM EDT


Justice Department Refuses to Release Documents

Even with all the negative attention it’s received over the U.S. attorney firings, the Justice Department still has the nerve to refuse to release papers related to the scandal.

According to The Washington Post, the Justice Department has released almost 6,000 pages of documents relevant to the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys. But it refuses to release 171 documents to Congress.

The withheld papers include e-mails that discuss media strategies, drafts of letters to Capitol Hill, memos and other documents, according to the Post.

Can’t imagine that Congress is going to like this …

Posted 04-27-2007 2:42 PM EDT

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