FOI in the USA - fighting against a presidential veto

"Journalists across the nation are celebrating the 30-year anniversary of a bitter Washington battle that led to the passage of the modern Freedom of Information Act over presidential veto. But new threats to this landmark law mount as its leading opponents from 1974 now dominate the Vice Presidency, Supreme Court and Pentagon, and are using their influence to push for more governmental secrecy."

This article provides an interesting and thought-provoking insight into the history of FOI in the United States. For example, the Nixon administration vigorously opposed the FOI bill and one FBI memorandum from June 1974 recorded comments from White House staff who “want no changes made in this legislation since they want it to remain as bad as possible to make their case stronger for sustaining a certain veto.”

The question of governmental scrutiny is also raised: although the current Bush administration emphasises the need for bills like the Patriot Act — which allow government authorities to intrude on citizens' personal lives through means such as decreased restrictions on wire tapping and the ability to audit library records — "they consistently defend their restrictions on the public’s ability to monitor government activities".

Freedom of information won veto battle 30 years ago (The South End: "the student voice of WSU", Wayne State University, Detroit, 11 January 2005)