Friday, January 12, 2007

The Freedom of Information Act has a Blog!

FOIA has a blog! Or, that is to say, FOIA lawyer, Scott Hodes, has a FOIA blog. The Freedom of Information Act is an essential tool for researchers, because it requires the government to disclose documents pursuant to a written request for records, unless there is a reason for non-disclosure. The reasons, including national security, a common reason for non-disclosure, are outlined in the statute. Researchers and media often complain, of course, that the government withholds too much material. An example of this is the recent case involving the John Lennon papers.

For more on FOIA itself, and how to use it, the National Security Archive has a very informative FOIA page, here. The FBI's helpful FOIA page is here, and their electronic reading room, with digitalized FBI files of prominent individuals, is here. The Justice Department's less helpful FOIA page is here.

The FOIA Blog is a very welcome addition to these web resources. It has information about whether federal agencies are meeting deadlines for declassification of records. It follows FOIA litigation (and litigation is, unfortunately, sometimes a part of FOIA research). It has good information about breaking FOIA-related news stories, such as the recent disclosure of Justice Rehnquist's records. And it follows developments in state open records laws.

A terrific resource.