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National Security Archive – President Obama Signs Freedom of Information Act Improvements Into Law

National Security Archive posting June 30, 2016: “At 4:00 PM today President Barack Obama signed the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016 (S. 337) into law. The bipartisan, bicameral bill – introduced by Senators John Cornyn, Chuck Grassley, and Patrick Leahy, and supported by Representatives Jason Chaffetz and Elijah Cummings in the House – will improve FOIA in several meaningful ways and reflects many of the findings of the National Security Archive’s FOIA audits and litigation. The legislation mandates a 25-year sunset for the “wildly misused” FOIA exemption (b)(5), an exemption that currently has no time limit and is often called the “withhold it because you want to” exemption. The CIA recently successfully hid a draft history of its 53-year-old Bay of Pigs invasion by invoking an overly-broad interpretation of the exemption. Thanks to President Obama and FOIA lions in the Senate and the House, the new FOIA bill will curtail such senseless secrecy. Agencies are now required to update their FOIA regulations within 180 days after the passage of the bill. A National Security Archive audit shows that too many federal agencies have not updated their regulations to comply with the 2007 Open Government FOIA improvements. By neglecting to update their “FOIA handbooks,” agencies are essentially ignoring Congress’s FOIA reforms…”

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