Monday, July 03, 2006

Jimmy C speaks

Former President Jimmy Carter offers up an op-ed in today's WaPo calling for fewer secrets in the US government. To remedy this situation, the man from Plains calls for amendments to the Freedom of Information Act to bring the US "more in line with emerging international standards."

Stacked up against other Carter pronouncements during the Bush II era, this one is rather mild. He points to an 81 percent increase in secret information from 2000 to 2005, but refrains from passing too much judgment on the administration. Instead, the piece focuses on the wrangling one must endure to gain access to government information:

Moreover, the response to FOIA requests often does not satisfy the transparency objectives or provisions of the law, which, for example, mandates an answer to information requests within 20 working days. According to the National Security Archives 2003 report, median response times may be as long as 905 working days at the Department of Agriculture and 1,113 working days at the Environmental Protection Agency. The only recourse for unsatisfied requesters is to appeal to the U.S. District Court, which is costly, timely and unavailable to most people. Policies that favor secrecy, implementation that does not satisfy the law, lack of a mandated oversight body and inaccessible enforcement mechanisms have put the United States behind much of the world in the right to information.

It's hard to argue against transparency in government. However, Carter does not offer any specifics. What information does Carter want made available? Does he believe any government information be kept secret? Does he really believe the US lags behind nations such as South Africa and Jamaica where transparency is concerned?

When Carter speaks, it's usually to point out something he sees as wrong. Don't expect any cheerleading. Carter has always displayed a strong streak of Puritanism, which has been known to create a dour outlook on things. I'll have to hear more before I determine if he's on to something here.


Blogger Roch101 said...

You might check out Carter's latest boob, "Our Endangered Values."

Blogger Roch101 said...

Uh, that would be Carter's latest book.


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