[Congressional Record: January 23, 2008 (Senate)]
[Page S201-S202]

                          OPEN GOVERNMENT ACT

  Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, as we start a new year--and the Senate 
starts a new session--the American people have a new law that honors 
and protects their right to know. I am pleased that during the waning 
hours of 2007, the President signed the Leahy-Cornyn Openness Promotes 
Effectiveness in our National Government Act, the ``OPEN Government 
Act,'' S. 2488, into law--enacting the first major reforms to the 
Freedom of Information Act, ``FOIA'' in more than a decade.
  Today, our Government is more open and accountable to the American 
people than it was just a year ago. With the enactment of FOIA reform 
legislation, the Congress has demanded and won more openness and 
accountability regarding the activities of the executive branch. I call 
on the President to vigorously and faithfully execute the OPEN 
Government Act, and I hope that he will fully enforce this legislation.
  Sadly, the early signs from the administration are troubling. Just 
this week, the administration signaled that it will move the much-
needed funding for the Office of Government Information Services 
created under the OPEN Government Act from the National Archives and 
Records Administration to the Department of Justice. Such a move is not 
only contrary to the express intent of the Congress, but it is also 
contrary to the very purpose of this legislation--to ensure the timely 
and fair resolution of American's FOIA requests. Given its abysmal 
record on FOIA compliance during the last 7 years, I hope that the 
administration will reconsider this unsound decision and enforce this 
law as the Congress intended.
  In addition, for the first time ever under the new law implementing 
the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, Federal agencies will be 
required to fully disclose to Congress their use of data mining 
technology to monitor the activities of ordinary American citizens. I 
am pleased that this law contains the reforms that I cosponsored last 
year to require data mining reporting and to strengthen the Privacy and 
Civil Liberties Oversight Board.
  Surely all of these OPEN Government reforms are cause to celebrate. 
But there is much more work to be done.
  During the second session of the 110th Congress, I intend to work 
hard to build upon these OPEN Government successes, so that we have a 
government that is more open and accountable to all Americans. As 
chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I have made oversight of the FOIA 
reforms contained in the OPEN Government Act one of my top priorities. 
I will also continue to work closely with Members on both sides of the 
aisle and in both Chambers to address the growing and troubling use of 
FOIA (b)(3) exemptions to withhold information from the American 
  As the son of a Vermont printer, I understand the great value of 
documenting and preserving our Nation's rich history for future 
generations, so that our democracy remains open and

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free. Next month, I will convene an important hearing of the Judiciary 
Committee on the Founding Fathers Project and the effort to make the 
historical writings of our Nation's Founders more accessible and open 
to the public.
  I will also work to ensure Senate passage of the Presidential Records 
Act Amendments of 2007, S. 886 to reverse a troubling Bush 
administration policy to curtail the disclosure of Presidential 
records. And I will continue my fight to ensure the public's right to 
know by urging the prompt consideration and passage of meaningful press 
shield legislation in the Senate.
  More that two centuries ago, Patrick Henry proclaimed that ``[t]he 
liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the 
transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.'' I could not 
agree more. Open government is not a Democratic value, nor a Republican 
value. It is an American value and an American virtue. In this new 
year, at this new and historic time for our Nation, I urge all Members 
to join me in supporting an agenda of an open and transparent 
Government on behalf of all Americans.