Thursday, March 8, 2007

Fight for Sunshine amid secrecy ongoing

Any of the dozens of students at Wednesday's noontime discussion in Simpkins Hall of government secrecy could tell you: The climate has changed for what information, action or access remains public -- regardless of the law.

Investigative reporter Elaine Hopkins (top, at right) and Illinois Press Association government-affairs lobbyist Beth Bennett (bottom, at right) talked about local, state and federal openness -- or its absence -- even as Capitol Hill saw the intrduction of what's been called "a backdoor approach to an official secrets act."

Arizona Republican Jon Kyl has proposed changing federal law to criminalize leaking or publishing any classified information in reports provided to Congress. This is dangerous on many levels, but here are two examples: Say the Quad Cities or Peoria airport is listed among places without adequate security, according to some secret Homeland Security study given to a Congressional subcommittee, and a worried aide slips that information to you so constituents would know -- and maybe ask their lawmakers to do something. If this measure passes, reporters who broadcast or print that could face jail time.
Another example: some federal administration is concerned that some of their actions are embarrassing, if not illegal, so the White House classifies that information as secret. That makes it literally unreportable, under Kyl's scheme -- even if it involves wrongdoing.

Read Society of Professional Journalists national president Christine Tatum's take on the issue -- again, happening NOW --

No comments: