Magazine article The Quill

Ashcroft Urges Caution with FOiA Requests

Magazine article The Quill

Ashcroft Urges Caution with FOiA Requests

Article excerpt

Obtaining government records might become more difficult under a Bush administration policy change made a month after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. According to The Washington Post, Attorney General John D. Ashcroft directed agency leaders to use caution in releasing records to journalists and others. He said agencies must "carefully consider" issues such as threats to national security and the effectiveness of law enforcement.

"Any discretionary decision by your agency to disclose information protected under the FOIA should be made only after full and deliberate consideration of the institutional, commercial, and personal privacy interests" that could be implicated, Ashcroft said in a memo released Oct. 16.

Ashcroft also said agencies that legitimately turn down requests made under the Freedom of Information Act will have the backing of the Justice Department.

Under the FOIA, reporters and others can obtain unclassified government records that officials otherwise would not release. …

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