Freedom of Information Act: A Reappraisal

Archive Report

Conflicting Rights Under Law

Impact of FOIA on Government Secrecy

Of all the “rights” Americans enjoy, perhaps the most difficult to define or legislate is “the right to know.” The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), signed into law in 1966, was designed to make federal agencies disclose more information to the public.1 Since its enactment, tens of thousands of previously secret files have been opened to citizen view. The statute has helped shed light on such diverse subjects as the CIA's mind control experiments and the espionage conviction of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.2 But despite its use in uncovering cases of possible wrongdoing by public officials, many believe that the Freedom of Information Act is still a long way from accomplishing its goal of ending government ...

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