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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Former information policy director provides insight on past, advice for future

ProPublica reporter Jennifer LaFleur interviewed Dan Metcalfe, who founded the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Information Policy and ran it for more than 25 years. Metcalfe says he has never witnessed a president pay so much attention to FOIA than Obama. Metcalfe advocates a "readily foreseeable harm" standard, which would require FOIA officers to release information that technically falls within an FOIA exemption unless it immediately occurs to them that disclosure could result in harm. He also suggests asking agencies to review "what they have been withholding from the public on that basic since 9/11 and to reconsider that in light of current conditions."
Dan Metcalfe directed the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Information Policy for more than 25 years. He founded the office in 1981, under the Reagan administration, and retired in 2007. During that time he drafted two seminal memos on FOIA. One during the Clinton years instructed government agencies to be more open and another in 2001 -- known as the "Ashcroft memorandum" -- that reversed that decision.

He now teaches law at American University and directs the Collaboration on Government Secrecy, the only academic center of its type at a law school.

More here.

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