1 DecSunshine Week 2006: Are We Safer in the Dark?
A National Dialogue on Open Government and Secrecy
Brought to you in celebration of Sunshine Week by the American Library Association, American Association of Law Libraries, American Society of Newspaper Editors/Sunshine Week, Coalition of Journalists for Open Government, League of Women Voters, the National Freedom of Information Coalition, and OpenTheGovernment.org,
Hurricane Katrina made clear the important role of government in protecting the American public. Sadly, the federal government has expanded secrecy and limited the public's ability to know what government is doing. What about your community? Is the government at all levels telling the public enough to ensure the safety of our families and our communities?
Monday, March 13, 2006 in the afternoon, local programs follow in March 2005 and will be celebrated in 2006 from March 12-18. The first national "Sunshine Week: Your Right to Know" was launched raise awareness of the importance of open government to everyone in the community, not just journalists.
A national panel of experts from around the country will discuss open government and secrecy -- the problems we are facing with it, how it impacts communities, and what the public can do about it. Locally sponsored programs in communities around the country could discuss how communities can keep all levels of government open.
Panel Discussion starting in Washington, DC linked via satellite to locally hosted discussions in communities across the country.Themes to be discussed:
Are We Safer in the Dark? An Overview
A brief overview of why secrecy is sometimes needed, the problems secrecy can create, and the real-life impact of unnecessary secrecy on ordinary Americans.
Americans talk about how they use openness to help keep community safe.
How Secrecy Works
A look from the inside at how the government's power to keep secrets grows and how the secret keepers wield that power in the courts, Congress and the executive branch, undermining oversight and open public debate of controversial issues
What We Can Do
A 21st Century Vision for Openness in Government
The panel discussion will be followed by discussions organized by local communities about how government secrecy and openness shape local issues and the lives of viewers, and what the public can do about it.
National Institute of Environmental Heath Sciences (NIEHS) published a Request for Information (RFI) concerning the proposed privatization of Environmental Health Perspectives ( EHP). ALA and the Medical Library Association have written a letter opposing privitization.
Copy of the ALA/MLA letter [ pdf]
ALA, along with the National Security Archive and other openness advocates filed a "friend of the court" brief with the United States Supreme Court asking the Court to review the summary dismissal, on secrecy grounds, of a lawsuit filed by Sibel Edmonds, an FBI whistleblower.
Sibel Edmonds was a contract linguist who sought to blow the whistle on improprieties in the FBI's translation unit and was fired. There are facts that support her claims of wrongdoing, including a Department of Justice Office of Inspector General Report that concludes that Ms. Edmonds' whistleblowing was "the most significant factor" in her termination.
Secrecy does not always serve the goal of protecting national security, as the numerous investigations into the September 11 attacks on the United States all concluded.View the brief (pdf)
Sunshine Week 2005 (March 13-19)
ALA is encouraging libraries to participate in public discussions during Sunshine Week on the importance of open government and access to government information. A good example is the importance of free access to documents and information through your local depository library.
The Sunshine Week site includes information about the project, some resources and readings
and a list of regional and state coordinators:
We encourage individuals or groups interested in learning more about this project to contact the coordinator for their area.
Please download and post/distribute these charts, produced by Knight Ridder Tribune (KRT):