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ASNE Survey: By Big Margin, Public Says Feds Are Too Secretive

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

ASNE Survey: By Big Margin, Public Says Feds Are Too Secretive

Article excerpt

Nearly seven of ten Americans believe the federal government is too secretive -- to the point that 28% think there own mail and phones may be tapped, according to a survey released Wednesday ahead of Sunshine Week.

Just 7% of the 1,008 adults surveyed believe the federal government is "very open," while 69% say it is either "somewhat secretive" or "very secretive."

The survey was commissioned by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) for national Sunshine Week, March 11-17. It was conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University.

Public concern about government secrecy is on the rise, the survey indicates. Last year, a similar poll found that 33% believed Washington was at least somewhat open, while 62% thought the federal government was somewhat or very secretive.

By contrast, Americans by big majorities believe their local and state governments are mostly transparent in their actions and record-keeping.

"That is an accurate assessment and it's absolutely true," Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, said in a statement. "By and large, state open-records laws are more progressive and user-friendly than anything we are seeing on the federal level these days."

The poll also unearthed rising concern about privacy. By a 2-1 margin, Americans want the FBI and other federal agencies to get a judge's permission before tapping phones or opening mail, even in terrorism cases.

Some 28% of respondents said it is either very likely or somewhat likely that their own mail and telephone calls have been intercepted. …

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