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Category Archives: Congress

Study: Government Blocks Specific Journalists From Accessing Information

David Sorota: “As states move to hide details of government deals with Wall Street and as politicians come up with new arguments to defend secrecy, it was revealed this week that many government information officers block specific journalists they don’t like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing “serious limitations on access to records” that they say have “impeded” their oversight work. The data about public information officers was compiled over the past few years by Kennesaw State University professor Carolyn Carlson. Her surveys found that 4 in 10 public information officers say “there are specific reporters they will not allow their staff to talk to due to problems with their stories in the past.”..Carlson has conducted surveys of journalists and public information officers since 2012. In her most recent survey of 445 working journalists, four out of five reported that “their interviews must be approved” by government information officers, and “more than half of the reporters said they had actually been prohibited from interviewing [government] employees at least some of the time by public information officers.”  In recent years, there have been signs that the federal government is reducing the flow of public information. Reason Magazine has reported a 114 percent increase in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rejections by the Drug Enforcement Agency since President Obama took office. The National Security Agency has also issued blanket rejections of FOIA requests about its metadata program. And the Associated Press reported earlier this year that in 2013 “the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times — a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year.” Those revelations foreshadowed this week’s letter from more than half of the federal government’s inspectors general saying that government agencies’ move to hide information from them represents a “potentially serious challenge to the authority of every Inspector General and our ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner.”

The executive order that led to mass spying, as told by NSA alumni

Cyrus Farivar - Ars Technica: [Executive Order] 12333 is used to target foreigners abroad, and collection happens outside the US,” whistleblower John Tye, a former State Department official, told Ars recently. “My complaint is not that they’re using it to target Americans, my complaint is that the volume of incidental collection on US persons is unconstitutional.” The document, known inContinue Reading

The 2014 Ebola Outbreak: International and U.S. Responses

CRS - The 2014 Ebola Outbreak: International and U.S. Responses, Tiaji Salaam-Blyther, Specialist in Global Health. August 26, 2014. “Ebola virus disease (Ebola or EVD) is a severe, often fatal disease that was first detected near the Ebola River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in 1976. Originating in animals, EVD is spread to and among humansContinue Reading

Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues

CRS – Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues, Amy F. Woolf, Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy. May 5, 2014. “The George W. Bush Administration’s interest in the use of conventional weapons for precision, long-range strike missions became evident in the 2001 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). This study called for the integration of precisionContinue Reading

CRS – China’s Economic Rise

China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States. Wayne M. Morrison, Specialist in Asian Trade and Finance, August 21, 2014. “The rapid rise of China as a major economic power within a time span of about three decades is often described by analysts as one of the greatest economic success stories in modern times.Continue Reading

Climate Change and Existing Law: A Survey of Legal Issues Past, Present, and Future

CRS - Climate Change and Existing Law: A Survey of Legal Issues Past, Present, and Future. Robert Meltz, Legislative Attorney. August 20, 2014. “This report surveys existing law for legal issues that have arisen, or may arise in the future, on account of climate change and government responses thereto.The reader interested in proposals for new laws to deal withContinue Reading

An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024

“The federal budget deficit has fallen sharply during the past few years, and it is on a path to decline further this year and next year. However, later in the coming decade, if current laws governing federal taxes and spending generally remained unchanged, revenues would grow only slightly faster than the economy and spending wouldContinue Reading

Drones at Home: Domestic Drone Legislation – A Survey, Analysis and Framework

Zoldi, Dawn M. K., Drones at Home: Domestic Drone Legislation — A Survey, Analysis and Framework (July 9, 2014). Available at for download SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2486259 “Can the government employ drones domestically without running roughshod over personal privacy? In an effort to preemptively rein in potential government overreach, most states have proposed legislation that restricts or forbidsContinue Reading

“Crisis” Management: Uncertainty and the Workplace

August 2014 EBRI Issue Brief #403 Paperback, 20 pp. Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2014 Executive Summary: “While the nation is now a few years removed from the financial turmoil that led to the so-called Great Recession, “crisis” is a word still much bandied about. Crisis is, after all, something that cries out for swift and decisive action—andContinue Reading

Unaccompanied Alien Children – Legal Issues: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

CRS – Unaccompanied Alien Children – Legal Issues: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions. Kate M. Manuel, Legislative Attorney; Michael John Garcia; Legislative Attorney. July 18, 2014. “Recent reports about the increasing number of alien minors apprehended at the U.S. border without a parent or legal guardian have prompted numerous questions about so-called unaccompanied alien children (UACs). Some of these questions pertain toContinue Reading

Minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee, July 29-30, 2014

A meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee was held in the offices of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, July 29, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. and continued on Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at 9:00 a.m.  [snipped from the release] Staff Review of the Economic Situation” The informationContinue Reading

Criminal Justice Act: At 50 Years, a Landmark in the Right to Counsel

US Courts news release: “August 20, 1964—the President signed into law the Criminal Justice Act (CJA), which for the first time assured professional legal counsel in federal courts by paying an hourly fee for court appointed lawyers. Six years later, Congress established a full-time federal defender service within the judicial branch. Together, the measures created theContinue Reading