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Friday, April 16, 2010

Does the public have a right to know?

A Senate panel has released a bill that would establish a commission to find ways to speed Freedom of Information Act requests. Despite Obama's transparency pledge, government bureaucrats had been finding ever more reasons to slow down public records, an AP study indicated.

Kansas became the 38th state to adopt a reporter shield law, reports the AP. Of course, we can expect prosecutors to attempt to weaken such laws.

Lest we forget the ultimate ends of censorship, recall the millions slain by Stalin and Hitler in the name of some crazy excuse or other. Stalin's lost generations are remembered by Malcolm A. Kline.

Mark Fiore can win a Pulitzer for his political cartoons but can't get his animations past iPhone's satire police, writes Laura McCann of NiemanLab. A good wrapup is found at Macworld.

A Twitter co-founder expressed hope that Twitter can help counter censors, reports Agence-France Presse. His remarks were made to the Censorship Research Center, which is fighting Iranian censorship.

Lucy Dalglish, top banana at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, thinks that the Obama Justice Dept.'s decision to prosecute an NSA whistleblower is intended to have a chilling effect on reporter sources, according to the New York Times.

Thomas A. Drake, when he was an NSA software engineer, passed a Baltimore Sun reporter embarrassing classified documents showing serious problems in the agency's data mining efforts and in its electrical power requirements.

He's been cooperating with the leak investigation and was surprised when he was indicted anyway. said his lawyer. The Times suggests that had he been involved in a truly serious national security breach, there would have been no trial.

Interestingly, he passed the documents to the reporter, Siobhan Gorman, now with the Wall Street Journal, via Hushmail, an encrypted email service with servers in Canada. Not smart. Hushmail is required to cooperate with Canadian authorities, which have quite a lot of leeway in opening mail. The Canadians work closely with Britain's MI6, and Britain and the United States have an intelligence-sharing agreement.

Ms. Gorman has not been charged with any crime.

Check out the Government Attic web site (see sidebar). It's a very useful reource for nosy reporters, revisionist historians and disgruntled Tea Partiers, among others. The same can be said for Russ Kick's Memory Hole (see sidebar).

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