Friday, June 1, 2007

Who kiboshed the Open Government Act?

Posted By on 06.01.07 at 07:29 PM

It was a mystery swiftly solved. On Wednesday the word went out from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies (a trade group the Reader belongs to) that an unknown U.S. senator had placed a "secret hold" on the Open Government Act of 2007 (pdf). The bill, which would strengthen the federal Freedom of Information Act, had already cleared the House (by a vote of 308 to 117) and the Senate Judiciary Committee, but the hold would keep it from reaching the Senate floor. What "pusillanimous supporter of government secrecy" was standing in the way? wondered AAN's executive director, Richard Karpel. He let members know that the Society of Professional Journalists was on the case.

By Thursday SPJ had broken it. SPJ reported that its members had polled the Senate, and "Senator Secrecy" had been unmasked -- it was Jon Kyl, an Arizona Republican. Kyl said the Justice Department had issues with the bill and he wanted to hold it up until the differences were worked out. JPark at thinkprogress.com was typical of the bystanders who marveled at the absurdity of Kyl's position: "A secret hold on the Open Government Act. Republicans really don’t get irony, do they?"

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