Its not uncommon to find public discussion and concern about the reasonable limits to privacy in the face of ongoing terror attacks – if you haven’t counted lately, the United States has now been involved in its unofficial war on terror for almost forty years, we just didn’t start calling it that until 2001 and of course its still legally undeclared. That discussion, and the corollary discussions of covert action oversight and transparency in government have slipped in the background during what has become a multi-year presidential election campaign. The subjects emerge periodically but in terms of news last no more than headlines for a day or so, the fate of most challenging topics.
When the subject of transparency does come up it can get pretty confusing, bringing forth the subject of security classifications, legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act, and slippery terms such as “redaction” and “sources and methods”. Having been waist deep in such things for a couple of decades myself, and being heavily involved in document access in my work with the Mary Ferrell Foundation, I recently took the time to share some thoughts about the subject, including the realities of what to expect if and when you do start pursuing government documents. It is actually possible to get an amazing amount of previously restricted information and I’ve listed a couple of places to find such things on line. But you have to understand the system, and have some concept of what will and will not be released.
Those interested in such challenges can find the essay at the following link: