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Category Archives: Freedom of Information

Do classified document revelations highlight problems at the National Archives?

  • The American Prospect – “Presidential Document Scandals Should Take Down America’s Secrecy Industry We classify way too many documents. Unfortunately, that will probably not be the takeaway from recent events. America has a problem with classified information. But this problem isn’t the one you’ve been hearing about for the past few weeks, with the revelations of President Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence turning up documents improperly stored in their homes and offices. It’s also different from the problem of Donald Trump hoarding classified information at Mar-a-Lago—though the circumstances of Trump asserting the right to take the documents and obstructing the efforts of the Archives to take them back make what he did qualitatively different, and far worse. No, the problem with classified information is that there’s so much of it, so much useless, meritless, groundless classified information. Tens of millions of pieces of paper are so labeled, millions of people can see them, and yet the vast majority of such material would not remotely endanger the nation if it entered the wrong hands. In fact, much of it is just plain embarrassing to the government, or worse, a cover-up of illegal acts…”
  • The Hill – “Former President Trump is being investigated for improperly handling classified documents. President Biden has also been found to have classified documents in his possession dating back to his time as vice president. Now former Vice President Mike Pence is in a similar situation with mishandling classified documents. It would not be surprising if other public figures make similar disclosures in the coming months. So, is the problem with the people or the data and information management process used by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)? There was a time that everything was recorded on paper. This is no longer the case. With the preponderance of information now stored electronically, the concept of classified documents is about classified information, not the physical documents that have been taken, stored, or as we now know, mishandled. Not all classified information is of equal concern. Any information that can harm the United States, its people and its interests would be considered classified across one of three levels: “Top Secret,” “Secret” or “Confidential.” The levels of classified documents held by the three men remains unclear. The NARA is responsible for storing and maintaining all presidential records, as outlined in the Presidential Records Act. They provide guidelines to ensure an efficient and complete transfer of presidential documents once a president’s term ends. This means that physical presidential documents that contain classified information should no longer exist outside the NARA. Based on the recent disclosures, the NARA has either been delinquent, misled or some combination of the two. In an electronic information world, all paper classified documents should be transferred into electronic form, with paper documents destroyed almost immediately once they are no longer in use. With such a procedure in place, no one could ever mishandle such documents…”

Florida teachers told to remove books from classroom libraries or risk felony prosecution

My Sun Coast: “Manatee County Schools Spokesperson Michael Barber confirms that communication has been sent to principals of schools to vet books teachers have in their classroom. In December, House Bill 1467 stated that School Library and Instructional Materials requires school district to adopt procedures for determining and reviewing content for library media centers. This… Continue Reading

Justice – Official Site

Jezebel – “It’s been nearly five years since Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court by the Senate in a 50-48 vote—despite allegations of sexual misconduct by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Deborah Ramirez and about 4,500 other tips that the FBI seemingly just kind of ignored. Justice, a new documentary about the botched… Continue Reading

Students want new books. Thanks to restrictions, librarians can’t buy them.

Washington Post: Schools are struggling to keep their shelves stocked as oversight by parents and school boards intensifies – “States and districts nationwide have begun to constrain what librarians can order. At least 10 states have passed laws giving parents more power over which books appear in libraries or limiting students’ access to books, a… Continue Reading

Biden’s New Open Government Plan Lays Out a Progressive Regulatory Reform Agenda

Center for Progressive Reform: “In case you missed it, the Biden administration capped off 2022 with the release of a new “open government” plan that aims to improve access to federal data and information, better engage the public in the regulatory process, and streamline delivery of government services and benefits. While the 21-page document —… Continue Reading

Unbanning Books: LJ’s 2023 Librarians of the Year

Library Journal: “Brooklyn Public Library’s Nick Higgins, Amy Mikel, Karen Keys, Jackson Gomes, and Leigh Hurwitz have been named LJ’s 2023 Librarians of the Year for their work on Books Unbanned, providing free ebook access to teens and young adults nationwide to help defy rising book challenges across the country. In 2022 Brooklyn Public Library’s Books Unbanned Team began… Continue Reading

Mastodon and the pros and cons of moving beyond Big Tech gatekeepers

Ars Technica: “As Elon Musk’s Category 5 tweetstorm continues, the once-obscure Mastodon social network has been gaining over 1,000 new refugees per hour, every hour, bringing its user count to about eight million. Joining as a user is pretty easy. More than enough ex-Twitterers are happy finding a Mastodon instance via joinmastodon.org, getting a list… Continue Reading

America’s culture warriors are going after librarians

.coda: “…It’s a tale playing out in cities and states across the country, as a book-banning fever courses through the country’s body politic. Nationally, attempts to remove books from school and public libraries are shattering previous records. The effort is being driven by a loose collection of local and national conservative parents’ groups and politicians… Continue Reading

Fifth U.S. Open Government National Action Plan

USAGov via White House: “The American people have strived for a more inclusive, accountable, transparent, and responsive government since our Nation’s founding. That spirit is embodied in key milestones across U.S. history, including expansions of the right to vote, broadening of basic civil rights protections to ensure dignity and equal treatment, improving protections for press… Continue Reading

No free PACER as U.S. lawmakers exclude proposal from spending bill

Reuters: “U.S. lawmakers have left a proposal to make the federal judiciary’s PACER online court records system free out of a sprawling, $1.66 trillion spending measure unveiled on Tuesday, a setback for advocates as the current Congress nears its end. Supporters of the Open Courts Act had been pushing to get the stalled, bipartisan legislation… Continue Reading

JFK Assassination Records – 2022 Additional Documents Release

“The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is processing previously withheld John F. Kennedy assassination-related records to comply with President Joe Biden’s Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies on the Temporary Certification Regarding Disclosure of Information in Certain Records Related to the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, requiring disclosure of releasable… Continue Reading

Here’s When You Should Use Tor Instead of a VPN

How-To-Geek: “If you’ve been looking into the different ways to browse anonymously, two terms will come up regularly: VPNs and Tor. However, when you compare these two, you’ll quickly see that they have very different use cases. To figure out when you should use Tor rather than a VPN, let’s first go over how they… Continue Reading