NEWS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
Issue 97, MAY 2003

Table of Contents

  1. Bush Administraton Rewriting Declassification E.O. 12295
  2. Terror Threats Prompt States to Shrink Access to Security-Related Records
  3. Al Qaeda and the Internet
  4. The Misadventures of a Government Document
  5. "Restore FOIA" Act Introduced
  6. Bruce James Testifies Before Congress (March 27, 2003)
  7. GPO Printing Changes Still on the Way
  8. Impressions from Reno : Depository Library Council Meeting, April 2003


(1) Bush Administraton Rewriting Declassification E.O. 12295

A draft executive order (EO) expected to replace President Clinton's E.O. 12958 that focuses on national security classification and declassification policy, circulated for agency comment during the week of March 10th. Though no public hearings (as were held during the Clinton Administration) are slotted to take place, NARA officials are also meeting informally with various interested parties in an effort to explain the Bush Administration's thinking behind the proposed revision.

Since it was issued by the Clinton White House, EO 12958 has dramatically accelerated the declassification process and has yielded close to a billion pages of historically valuable declassified documents. But according to Steven Aftergood, editor of the Federation of American Scientists newsletter Secrecy News, "In recent decades, whenever the presidency shifted from one party to another, the new president would issue an executive order on secrecy policy to serve as the foundation of the classification system. Typically, and at least rhetorically, the orders issued by Democratic presidents (e.g., Clinton's EO 12958) have emphasized disclosure, while those of Republican presidents (e.g., Reagan's EO 12356) have stressed secrecy."

For months now, administration officials have stated that the new EO would be more of a "refinement" than a wholesale trashing of the Clinton order. Officials continue to state that the new draft order "amounts to amendments, rather than an entirely new Bush order." Officials also claim that though a number of changes have been made, they are "quite modest, quite supportable." An early assessment of the proposed EO offered anonymously by an agency official who favors public access to government information, is that the proposed EO "could be a lot worse." Other declassification insiders who have access to the EO report that they are pleasantly surprised "how little is changed," adding that the EO is "not so much a rewrite as an edit of the existing order." Insiders are especially pleased to see that the notion of automatic declassification of documents is preserved.

The Bush Administration initiative to craft a new executive order began in August 2001. Since then, it has been a source of anxiety for those who feared that the administration's current predilection for official secrecy would lead to dramatic changes in classification policy. Insiders believe the new order will probably be officially issued prior to April 17, 2003 -- the 25-year anniversary date on which classified files containing intelligence information or multi-agency "equities" are due to be automatically declassified, pursuant to the Clinton E.O.13142. If signed by the President by that date, the new Bush EO would defer that April 17 deadline.

A copy of the new draft executive order is available courtesy of the Federation of American Scientists at: http://www.fas.org/sgp/bush/drafteo.html.

Source: Bruce Craig, National Coalition for History (NCH) Washington Update, Vol. 9, #11, March 13, 2003.

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(2) Terror Threats Prompt States to Shrink Access to Security-Related Records

In the face of terrorism threats, state lawmakers across the nation are locking up government records that deal with everything from security response plans to criminal investigations, according to research by the Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project at the University of Florida.

Researchers found state lawmakers have enacted dozens of changes since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that limit access to government-held information about building plans, evacuation procedures, medical supplies and a number of other issues related to security.

“A lot of us worry about how much information is now being kept from state citizens,” said Bill Chamberlin, director of the Brechner Citizen Access Project. “It is one thing to keep sensitive information out of the hands of the terrorists, but quite another to use terrorism as an excuse to shield government officials from being accountable for their actions.” Chamberlin will present the findings today during the 2003 National Freedom of Information Day Conference at the Freedom Forum in Arlington, Va.

The project rated the access to public records under state laws discussing security, public safety and terrorism by assigning individuals law sunshine ratings on a scale from “sunny,” for the most open, to “dark,” for the most closed, in eight subcategories. Researchers averaged the subcategories to get an overall ranking for information related to security, safety and terrorism.

Louisiana, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia received “nearly dark” ratings because they limit access to many records assessing preparedness and security risks. For example, Ohio public records law changes enacted in 2002 exempt the security records of any public body, and defines "security record" as any information used to "prevent, mitigate or respond to acts of terrorism."

Colorado, Pennsylvania and Tennessee also received “nearly dark,” or mostly closed, ratings for access to records that include security-involved personal information. For example, changes made to the Tennessee Open Records Act in 2001 exempt all records created to respond to or prepare for "any violent incident," such as a "terrorist incident.”

Generally, the Citizen Access Project advisory board gave the highest sunshine ratings to states without specific terrorism- or security-related public records exemptions. About 30 states received “sunny with clouds” rankings for categories such as security-related investigations, security assessments and facility security. No state received the highest access rating in any of the eight security-related state law categories researchers reviewed.

“Just a few states had terrorism terms in laws before 9/11,” said Chamberlin, who also is the Joseph L. Brechner Eminent Scholar in the College of Journalism and Communication at UF. “The underlying assumption of advisory board members seems to be that states without specific terrorism-related statutes allow more public access.”

Some states had very broad security and safety language including Montana, Hawaii and Tennessee,” Chamberlin said. Those states were rated as allowing the least amount of access, receiving a “somewhat closed” rating.

In other cases, multiple changes in the law have decreased access in states such as Florida that have had a reputation for government openness.

“Most people think in terms of the Bush administration closing off access,” Chamberlin said. “We found that many of the individual states are doing the same thing.”

Chamberlin said that governments historically tend to withhold information, and punish those who complain about government actions during times of war and other national crises. He said it was important for U.S. citizens to demand continued accountability from their leaders.

“This is a time when it is particularly important to monitor what our elected representatives, and the people they appoint, are doing,” he said.

Members of the project’s advisory board included Rebecca Daugherty, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Sandra Davidson, University of Missouri; Bob Freeman, New York State Committee on Open Government; Kevin Goldberg, Cohn and Marks; Harry Hammitt, Access Reports; Frosty Landon, National Freedom of Information Coalition; Linda Lightfoot, The (Baton Rouge, La.) Advocate; Ian Marquand, Society of Professional Journalists; Patrice McDermott, American Library Association; Anne Mullin O’Connor, Indiana Public Access Counselor; and John Watkins, University of Arkansas.

For a complete list of state rankings visit http://www.citizenaccess.org. (Take the link to comparative state laws in the middle column and then go to the drop-down menu and select "security and safety.”)

The Citizen Access Project is funded by Orlando broadcast executive Marion Brechner. The research is conducted under Chamberlin’s supervision. The project also received funding from the Miami-based Knight Foundation.


Marion Brechner Citizen Access Project Ratings
for Access to Security and Safety Public Records, by State
7: Sunny - Completely open

6: Mostly Sunny - Mostly open

5: Sunny with clouds - Somewhat open : Alabama(4.94), Arizona(4.94), Kentucky(4.94), Minnesota(4.94), Nevada(4.94), North Dakota(4.94), South Dakota(4.94), Texas(4.94), West Virginia(4.94), New Mexico(4.76), Oklahoma(4.71), Nebraska(4.70), Missouri(4.66), Arkansas(4.64), New York(4.55), Michigan(4.54)

4: Partly Cloudy - Neither more open nor more closed : Georgia(4.42), Mississippi(4.35), Wisconsin(4.24), North Carolina(4.20), Utah(4.08), South Carolina(4.04), Maine(4.01), Rhode Island(3.97), Illinois(3.94), Wyoming(3.93), Indiana(3.84), Virginia(3.84), New Jersey(3.75), Colorado(3.74), Connecticut(3.70), Kansas(3.70), Vermont(3.68), New Hampshire(3.65), Maryland(3.62), Massachusetts(3.57), Idaho(3.56), Ohio(3.55), Louisiana(3.53)

3: Cloudy - Somewhat closed ; California(3.47), Pennsylvania(3.42), Iowa(3.39), Oregon(3.38), Washington(3.34), Alaska(3.11), Delaware(3.07), Florida(2.87), Hawaii(2.73), Montana(2.71), Tennessee(2.67)

2: Nearly Dark - Mostly closed

1: Dark - Completely closed


Source: Joe Campbell and bill Chamberlin, http://www.napa.ufl.edu/2003news/terrorrecords.htm, March 14, 2003; GOVDOC-L, March 19, 2003.

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(3) Al Qaeda and the Internet

The newest issue of Parameters: The U.S. Army War College Quarterly has a very informative article on terrorist use of the Internet for planning activities. Entitled "Al Qaeda and the Internet: The Danger of 'Cyberplanning.'" its written by Timothy Thomas, an analyst at the Army's Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth, KS and can be accessed at http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/03spring/thomas.pdf.

Thomas illustrates how Al Qaida and its ideological brethren have used the Internet to plan operations and refers to websites used by Al Qaida adherents and sympathizers. He also exposes the dangers of publicly disclosing the methods law enforcement authorities use to track terrorist activities and refers to a quote in a captured Al Qaida training manual saying "Using public sources openly and without resorting to illegal means, it is possible to gather at least 80 percent of all information required about the enemy." The enemy, of course, is the U.S. and its allies.

Given Al Qaida's effectual use of the Internet and the acute security requirements of the forthcoming war against Iraq and the long-term war against terrorism, it's essential that our profession quit engaging in histrionics over the USA Patriot Act and recognize that we are dealing with adversaries that seek to use the Internet's openness and decentralization to attack us and our institutions. We should place less emphasis on promoting an unattainable ideal of public access to all government information and learn to understand the pressures our security, intelligence, and law enforcement officials operate under in combatting terrorism and how operational secrecy is an essential ally in their efforts.

Source: Bert Chapman, Purdue University; GOVDOC-L, March 19, 2003

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(4) The Misadventures of a Government Document

On 19 March 2003 FBI agents conducted a sting operation in Philadelphia and reclaimed North Carolina's original copy of the Bill of Rights from individuals who were trying to sell it to a Philadelphia-based museum. The document was one of fourteen handwritten original copies of the Bill of Rights known to exist. The copies were penned by the clerks to the First House of Representatives and the Senate and signed by Senate Secretary Samuel A. Otis, House Clerk John Beckley, House Speaker Frederick Augustus Muhlenberg, and Vice-President John Adams.

The document has an interesting history. In 1789, the first federal Congress meeting in New York considered adoption of the first ten amendments to the Constitution, known collectively as the Bill of Rights. As a condition of ratifying the proposed new federal Constitution, several states demanded copies of the proposed amendments. Congress authorized each of the original thirteen states to be sent a copy of the Bill of Rights; the federal government also retained one copy.

For 76 years, the North Carolina copy was retained in the statehouse. In 1865, during the American Civil War, a Union soldier marching south through North Carolina with General William T. Sherman's army is believed to have stolen it and taken it home to Tippecanoe, Ohio. The soldier apparently sold it in 1866. For the next 135 years the document was in the hands of private collectors and periodically offered for sale, with one owner or another often trying to sell it back to North Carolina, but always through intermediaries. It most recently turned up in 2000 when individuals, accompanied by armed body guards, visited the offices of the George Washington University's First Federal Congress Project to authenticate the document.

Though initially it was unclear which state copy was being presented for authentication, the First Federal Congress Project research staff determined that it was the missing North Carolina copy. The Project staff found that six of the original states no longer had their copies -- two had been burned, two were in the possession of the Library of Congress, and one was held by the New York Public Library. Through the process of elimination and through docketing information and handwriting analysis there was little doubt that the document being offered for sale to the National Constitution Center (a soon-to-be opened museum in center-city Philadelphia) for $4 million (probably a tenth of its true value) was the North Carolina copy. Federal authorities become involved and replevin laws kicked in once the National Constitution Center officials contacted state officials and the FBI.

With the document now in federal hands, it is slotted be returned to the state of North Carolina. An elated, North Carolina governor Mike Easely (D-NC) told the Associated Press, "It is a historic document, and its return is a historic occasion." The FBI has yet to make any arrests in the ongoing investigation.

Source: Bruce Craign, National Coalition for History (NCH) Washington Update, (Vol. 9, #12; March 21, 2003).

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(5) "Restore FOIA" Act Introduced

On 12 March 2003, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI), James Jeffords (I-VT), Joseph Lieberman (D-C T), and Robert Byrd (D-WV) introduced the "Restore Freedom of Information Act" (S. 609), legislation that would replace the broad FOIA exemption for "critical infrastructure information" presently included in the charter for the new Department of Homeland Security. The Restore FOIA bill is designed to protect Americans' "right to know" while simultaneously contributing to the security of the nation's critical infrastructure. The bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.

According to the bill's sponsors, the legislation embodies the compromise that senators Leahy, Levin, and others reached with the White House during the Senate's earlier work on the homeland security bill. Last November, a bipartisan compromise was stripped out of the underlying bill and House language was enacted.

The Restore FOIA legislation would limit the FOIA exemption to relevant "records" submitted by private entities, so that only those records that actually pertain to critical infrastructure safety are protected. The bill also seeks not to limit the use of such information by the government, except to prohibit disclosure where such information is appropriately exempted under FOIA. It also seeks to protect the actions of legitimate whistleblowers, rather than criminalizing their acts. The measure does not forbid use of such information in civil court cases to hold companies accountable for wrongdoing or to protect the public. Another provision seeks to respect, rather than preempt, state and local FOIA laws. For more information about the bill, tap into: http://leahy.senate.gov/press/200303/031203.html.

Source: Bruce Craign, National Coalition for History (NCH) Washington Update, (Vol. 9, #12; March 21, 2003).

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(6) Bruce James Testifies Before Congress (March 27, 2003)

On March 27, Bruce James, the Public Printer of the United States appeared before the Legislative Branch Subcommittee on Appropriations to testify on the proposed budget for the Government Printing Office and the Superintendent of Documents account for FY2004. The Chairman, Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) began the hearing with testimony from the Government Accounting Office but quickly moved to the Government Printing Office, explaining that he was new at the Chairmanship and was just beginning to learn the process.

Mr. James described his approach to reorganization of the Government Printing Office and called attention to an article about GPO and his new role in the Washington Post of March 27. He said that there were a number of areas where he was surveying and conducting fact-finding with customers, printers and librarians. He was interested in the digital infrastructure. He gave an example about the problem of authenticity of a web site and cited his concern about preservation of information. He said he realized that Congress was limited in terms of appropriations, but listed the following areas where GPO needed funds, Congressional Printing and Binding, he asked for a 1.7 percent increase over FY2003; Superintendent of Documents, salaries and expenses, he asked for a 3 percent increase to cover pay and benefits and a slight price increase; he requested $3.41 million in allocations to replace the 10-year-old technology and asked for $10 million to readjust the labor force. James explained that some funds would be used as incentives for early retirement of those almost ready to retire and he anticipated a cost savings of around $18 million for next year.

Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) asked him if GPO was a business he might not have wanted to buy. James responded that he felt it offered an opportunity to try to figure out how to take GPO into the 21st Century. He expanded upon the history of GPO service through depository libraries and said "people all across this country are able to walk into a [depository] library and access the record of government." James said this was a wonderful service.

Senator Durbin asked about the GPO printing of the Federal budget and that GPO had come in with the lowest estimate. He wondered if there was a cost overrun would GPO have to absorb it. James replied that any cost overrun depended on the amount of corrections and/or changes requested by the client.

Source: ALAWON, v. 12, no. 28, March 28, 2003.

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(7) GPO Printing Changes Still on the Way

New rules allowing federal agencies to purchase printing services directly from private firms will be issued “in the near future,” an Office of Management and Budget spokesman said Friday. In the meantime, agencies still must go through the Government Printing Office for most jobs. Nearly a year ago, OMB Director Mitch Daniels announced that agencies would soon be freed from the printing office’s “monopoly,” which it has enjoyed for a century under federal law. Daniels said in a May 3, 2002 memorandum that Congress cannot force executive branch agencies to use the printing office, citing a 1996 Justice Department opinion. He instructed the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council to rewrite procurement rules governing the purchase of printing.

The council, which oversees procurement rules, issued proposed rules in November. Government Printing Office officials and some lawmakers spent the summer before launching a counteroffensive to Daniels’ plan, arguing that the executive branch cannot simply ignore a federal law. Printing office proponents also said that letting agencies go their own way on printing would be expensive because they would no longer reap the savings of centralized purchasing.

For the full article by Brian Friel, see GovExec.com Today, April 22, 2003, at http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0403/042103b1.htm.

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(8) Impressions from Reno : Depository Library Council Meeting, April 2003

Depository Library Council Meeting attendees in Reno had to walk through a casino to get to the meetings (makes you sorry you didn’t go, eh?). The first day was a radical departure from the usual DLC agenda with Bruce James asking the Council to brainstorm with a facilitator. The audience was not allowed to participate until the afternoon. James asked for a “50,000 foot” view of GPO but this seemed difficult for many of the participants who kept focusing on minutia.

James reported that in the future 50% of GPO’s products will not be printed at GPO and his plan for change has three steps. 1.) Fact-finding including user profiles. 2.) Strategic planning and 3.) Implementation. Tim noted that some of step three is already happening since he has already brought in new people and is reorganizing the departments. One example is that James will merge functional responsibilities within GPO Sales and FDLP. Some of the discussion topics for Council included GPO as an aggregator with fees for access (free to depositories) and depository libraries as a “community of practitioners.” There was discussion redefining the focus for libraries from collections to services. GPO will work on changing Title 44 but probably in steps rather than the sweeping changes attempted before. James also notes that GPO can change its own regulations since they wrote them. An example of why change is needed is that the subscribers to the Federal Register were once 35,000 and are now only 2,000. Council sees the role for FDLP as cataloger, aggregator, expert consultant, and permanent access provider.

Sheila McGarr is returning to GPO in her old job as head of the library division, replacing Bonnie Trivizas who is retiring.

GPO now enjoys status as an “archive affiliate” per the National Archives. They expect to have the PKI authentication software working by the end of September. They will be the only agency with this capability and hope that it will draw some of the other agencies into the GPO website.

Some of the other things they are looking at for the future include an Economic Development Service to assist depositories in low-income areas. They will provide services to boost the economy in these areas. They are encouraging the state libraries to include links to GPOAccess and Ben’s Guide with the suite of databases provided to libraries. There will be an adult version of Ben’s Guide. GPO is looking for digitization partners (you digitize documents and they include them in Access).

It is likely that self-studies will disappear and GPO is thinking about have localized inspectors who would also provide consultation and training services. These “inspectors” would probably be based at the regionals (many covering more than one state) and may even be used to allow the regional librarian to be away from the library more often. GPO would pay the salaries for these positions as a support for the regionals.

A new set of Core Collection lists are likely with variations based on the type of library. Scanned copies of forthcoming documents might replace microfiche. (No retro work.) A CD-ROM will be issued with the investigation of the Challenger accident. GPOAccess is getting a new search engine. GPO is trying to get the CRS reports into the FDLP. They are reconsidering the ban on requiring ID of depository users in light of security concerns.

GPO may have a collection soon to put in their new catalog. They are looking at the concept of becoming the U.S. Library of Public Information. The Library of Congress doesn’t collect docs and the boxes of documents that have been sent to NARA are never unpacked so they may have an existing source to even have a retro collection. This would be a library of last resort and is not intended to replace regionals.

They have statistics on the number of searches by source to their PURLs. The top sources are search engines which they think is a result to paid placement that they started a couple years ago. CU is number 17 on the list of origination sites. If you have any additional URLs that your patrons use to access electronic documents, you should send them to GPO so that those searches are credited to your depository. While it is considered good if a site has a “click-through rate” of 3%, GPO’s rate is 15%. (Three percent of the people who get your link while they are doing a search actually follow that link to your site. - sp’s best guess)

Tim Byrne’s favorite program was “Deposits and Withdrawals: A Survey of Depository Libaries That Have Recently Changed Status.” Luke Griffin and Aric Ahrens contacted all the libraries that had changed status, with the majority having dropped it. They did some statistical analysis and learned that the vast majority of dropouts had been depositories for less than 50 years, had a selection rate less than 20% and their overall collection was under a million pieces. The reasons for dropping have also changed. 70+% in 1970-1984 dropped because of lack of use while 59% of the libraries in 2000-2002 cite staff or funding problems. The number of depository libraries was very stable until 1962 when each Congressional District could have two depositories instead of just one and law libraries were added outside that limit.

Source: Colorado Government Documents Public Information Group (GoPIG) Minutes, April 25, 2003.

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