Thursday, December 15, 2005

Bill Moyers: The Importance of FOIA

The fine people at the National Security Archive in Washington have posted the prepared text of Bill Moyers' speech, In The Kingdom of The Half-Blind, from last Friday's forum on the 20th anniversary of the founding of this crucial archive.

Moyers spoke eloquently about the importance of the Freedom of Information Act and how it's helped pry loose many crucial documents and files from our government, and also how fearful politicians have tried to curb the Act.

Needless to say, I am honored that Moyers cited my blog in his talk, specifically a posting from last month on the severely limited access the Justice Department was allowing for hundreds of legal papers related to Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito:

"[Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Antonin Scalia] have much to fear from the Freedom of Information Act. Just a few days ago, FOIA was used to force the Department of Justice to make available legal documents related to Supreme Court nominee Judge Alito's record. The department reluctantly complied but under very restricted circumstances. The records were made available on one day, for three hours, from 3 to 6pm, for reporters only. No citizen or advocacy groups were permitted access. There were 470 pages to review. The blogspot Mpetrelis reckons this meant a reporter had about 34 seconds to quickly read each page and figure out if the information was newsworthy or worth pursuing further. 'Not a lot of time to carefully examine documents from our next Supreme Court justice.'"

But mine wasn't the only blog mentioned by Moyers. He also singled out DailyKos:

"We won an Emmy for the hour-long profile of Chuck Spinney, the Pentagon whistleblower who worked from within to expose graft and waste in defense spending. And the blog,, speculated that it was our interview with Ambassador Joe Wilson, two weeks before the invasion of Iraq and months before Robert Novak outed Wilson's wife Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, that first outraged the administration. 'An honor I dreamed not of…'"

Please take the time and read Moyers' full speech, then, give thanks we have FOIA as a tool to use for constant accountability and transparency over our federal government and how it operates.

No comments: