Government Compliance with
It has been virtually a matter of principle for American presidents to oppose the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Even Lyndon Johnson, who signed the FOIA into existence in 1966, buried his perfunctory paeons to open government under a mountain of cautionary criticism. This persistent executive hostility toward the FOIA derives from a constitutional concern about legislative encroachment upon the executive branch as well as a practical desire to protect the confidentiality of White House communications.
The farther down the executive chain of command one goes, the less obstinate is the opposition to the FOIA and the more likely that it is seen as an administrative law that requires compliance within the limits of staff time and resources. Among most FOIA officers, the individuals who process the requests and authorize the disclosures, there is, in fact, a genuine respect for the FOIA. Even some high-level White House officials have been FOIA advocates. Anthony Lake, former national security adviser for the Clinton administration, has also been associated with the National Security Archive, a private FOIA support group and archive of documents released under the act. During a recent conference appearance with Scott Armstrong, founder of the National Security Archive, Lake described his ambivalence about the FOIA. "I have been on both sides of this issue," he said. "When I was on the non-governmental side, it was as a board member of the National Security Archive when Scott was there. I was