Here’s what you won’t hear in the White House’s aggressive castigation of Julian Assange and Wikileaks: The Australian activist is doing the U.S. government’s job better than the U.S. government. The success of Wikileaks is a harsh reminder that while a small group of rogue hackers can destabilize international diplomatic relations, the federal government still cannot — or in some cases, refuses to — release non-classified documents to the public upon request.
In March, the Associated Press reported that FOIA exemptions rose during Obama’s first year in office. In October, we reported on a survey that found many federal workers tasked with responding to FOIA requests don’t know how to do their jobs, and that their bosses don’t either. More recently, the Electronic Frontier Foundation uncovered arbitrary and conflicting redactions in identical sets of FOIA documents.
Now even the Supreme Court seems to think that the Freedom of Information Act is in need of a major overhaul: During a hearing last week, every justice but one was “surprisingly hostile” to a oft-used government argument for withholding information.