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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

FOIA to DOJ Seeking Legal Analysis Used By Treasury to Withhold Tax Return Info from Congress

American Oversight – Trump’s Tax Returns: “According to the Treasury Department, Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s refusal to comply with a House committee’s request for the president’s tax returns is based on a Justice Department legal analysis — even though the IRS issued a memorandum concluding that such documents must be produced unless there is a claim of executive privilege. We’ve asked the Justice and Treasury Departments for records of and communications about that legal analysis for the IRS memo…”

AP – Justice backs Mnuchin’s refusal to turn over Trump’s taxes: “…The 33-page opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel argues that the committee’s chairman, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., wanted to make the president’s tax returns public and because of that plan, the request was not to carry out a legitimate legislative function. But Neal has said the law is clear the information must be released to Congress, the documents were sought to aid a committee investigation into whether the IRS is doing its job properly to audit a sitting president, and obtaining them would be a “necessary piece” of the committee’s work…”

How librarians, pirates, and funders are liberating the world’s academic research from paywalls

Vox – The war to free science. “The 27,500 scientists who work for the University of California generate 10 percent of all the academic research papers published in the United States. …The University of California decided it doesn’t want scientific knowledge locked behind paywalls, and thinks the cost of academic publishing has gotten out of… Continue Reading

Killer Apps: Vanishing Messages, Encrypted Communications, and Challenges to FOIA Laws

Daxton R. Stewart, Killer Apps: Vanishing Messages, Encrypted Communications, and Challenges to Freedom of Information Laws When Public Officials “Go Dark”, 10 Case W. Res. J.L. Tech. & Internet [1] (first article) (2019) “Government officials such as White House staffers and the Missouri governor have been communicating among themselves and leaking to journalists using apps… Continue Reading

Transparency Caucus features tools to track legislative information

Alex Howell [includes video of the forum]: “On June 7, the Transparency Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives hosted a remarkable forum inside of the United States Capitol that featured ten presentations from government officials and members of civil society on innovative tools and technologies. Following is a run down of who spoke and… Continue Reading

Many Americans Say Made-Up News Is a Critical Problem That Needs To Be Fixed

Pew – Politicians viewed as major creators made-up news, but journalists seen as the ones who should fix it – “Many Americans say the creation and spread of made-up news and information is causing significant harm to the nation and needs to be stopped, according to a new Pew Research Center survey of 6,127 U.S.… Continue Reading

Leaked FDA study finds milk, meat, produce contaminated with ‘forever chemicals’

The Hill: “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that chemicals linked to cancer are showing up in milk, meat, produce and even store-made chocolate cakes sold in the U.S., according to an agency study that has not yet been made public. Aspects of the study, presented last week at a scientific conference in… Continue Reading

Justice Department Clarifies Redactions To Mueller Report

The US government pushed back on a lawsuit by BuzzFeed News that seeks the Mueller report in its entirety: “The Department of Justice told a federal court judge that it cannot disclose any redacted parts of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report without harming ongoing national security investigations and other sensitive matters. BuzzFeed News and the… Continue Reading

What’s the state of state public records law?

MuckRock – “Explore our four-part series detailing crucial aspects of state records law.  Over the last nine months, our FOIA Fellow Jessie Gomez has been looking at public records law across the nation through our State of State Public Records Law project. Today, we’ll be exploring the major takeaways from her reporting. Primarily, our coverage… Continue Reading

Civic Pulse – a new tool for monitoring government websites

MuckRock -“Last week, we saw a lot of progress on our new tool for monitoring government agency websites. Building off data from the MuckRock API, it checks and grades agency web pages on criteria such as privacy, accessibility, and speed. For previous site improvements, check out all of MuckRock’s release notes, and if you’d like… Continue Reading

Legislative Purpose and Adviser Immunity in Congressional Investigations

CRS – Legislative Purpose and Adviser Immunity in Congressional Investigations May 24, 2019: “The Trump Administration has recently questioned the legal validity of numerous investigative demands made by House committees. These objections have been based on various grounds, but two specific arguments will be addressed in this Sidebar. First, the President and other Administration officials… Continue Reading

PLOS Journals Now OPEN for Published Peer Review

“Starting today, ALL PLOS journals will offer authors the option to publish their peer review history alongside their accepted manuscript! We’ve been excited to make this announcement, and make major strides towards a more open publication process, since last fall when we signed ASAPbio’s open letter committing to transparent peer review options. What will it… Continue Reading

House Intel Committee releases transcripts of Michael Cohen’s 2 day closed-door testimony

Cohen’s February 2019 testimony can be found here. Cohen’s March 2019 testimony can be found here. [May 20, 2019], the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted to release Michael Cohen’s testimony and related exhibits to the public by a vote of 12 – 7. Afterwards, Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) made the following statement: “With… Continue Reading