Editorial: Newsom’s state secrets

Pub date March 10, 2009
SectionBruce Blog

(Scroll down for Executive Editor Tim Redmond’s best argument to save the Chronicle and how it ties in to James Madison’s birthday, our annual Freedom of Information issue, and the annual SPJ/FOI awards dinner.)

It’s difficult, and at times insanely difficult, to get even basic public information out of Newsom’s office.

EDITORIAL On January 21st, his second day in office, President Barack Obama announced that he was dramatically changing the rules on federal government secrecy. His statement directly reversed, and repudiated, the paranoia and backroom dealings of the Bush administration.

“The Freedom of Information Act,” the new president declared, “should be administered with a clear presumption: in the face of doubt, openness prevails. The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.”