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January 11, 2006

Freedom of Information Act

Jeff Jarvis details here his attempt to testify at the Senate Commerce Committee’s Jan. 19 hearing on decency.  I would have rather been represented by Jeff than any of the self-appointed and media-anointed people who did testify including Jack Valenti (lobbyist) and Brent Bozell (Parents Television Council President) . But Jeff was not invited to the staged hearing.

So, good reporter that he is, Jeff tried to find a way to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the committee to find out how they determined who to invite. He got suspicious when he couldn’t find any instructions for doing that and posted a request for help on his blog.

The answer, unfortunately, is that the FOIA, like OSHA and Social Security, doesn’t apply to Congress. The first line of the act (full text here) says: “(a) Each agency shall make available to the public information as follows…”. Further down is the definition: “"agency" as defined in section 551(1) of this title includes any executive department, military department, Government corporation, Government controlled corporation, or other establishment in the executive branch of the Government (including the Executive Office of the President), or any independent regulatory agency…”

What’s sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander. FOIA is very important for knowing what appointed officials are up to. Too bad our elected officials don’t think we have the same right to know how they make decisions.  Doesn’t stop Jeff Jarvis from asking, though, and shouldn’t stop the rest of us either.

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» Freedom of Information Act? Dont be Funny from It looks obvious
Im following, with great interest, Jeff Jarviss reports about how our elected representatives intend to limit our freedom of speech. In his efforts to have his, and other similar, Jeff Jarvis tried to be invited to testify at the Sena... [Read More]


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