Open government and the invasion of Iraq

"Unnecessary secrecy in government leads to arrogance in government and defective policy decisions."

That sentence is taken from the 1997 Labour manifesto, which promised more open government through the implementation of a Freedom of Information Act. Eight years later, the freedom of information legislation finally came into force.

According to the leader in the Independent on Sunday there is one simple test by which the UK FOI Act and its independent arbitrator, the UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas, should be judged:
"That is whether Mr Thomas decides that the public interest is served by publishing the Attorney General's full advice to the Government on the legality of the invasion of Iraq [...] if publication of the Attorney general's detailed advice on Iraq is not in the public interest, it is difficult to see what is [...] If the Freedom of Information Act does not allow MPs and the people they represent the chance to judge that question for themselves, it will be exposed as a sham."

This is a secret too far (Independent on Sunday, 2 January 2005)

[see also the following article for a different point of view - Falconer: Give FOI a chance]