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Obama Edicts Boost FOIA and .gov Websites

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the breath-of-fresh-air dept.

Government 400

Ian Lamont writes "The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the National Security Archive are praising President Obama's executive orders to make the federal government more open. Yesterday, Obama issued two memos and one executive order instructing government agencies to err on the side of making information public and not to look for reasons to legally withhold it. The moves are expected to make it easier for people to file Freedom of Information Act requests, and should also boost the amount of information that agencies place on their websites. The general counsel for the National Security Archive (an NGO that publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act) even predicts that agencies will use blogs to share information. Obama's directives reverse a 2001 memo from former US Attorney General John Ashcroft instructing federal agencies to generally withhold information from citizens filing FOIA requests."

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can we request the torture vids? (3, Interesting)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560375)

The courts had ordered the Pentagon to release additional prison torture pics and vids, stuff Congress had viewed in private and turned a lot of stomachs. Currently the Pentagon is illegally sitting on these pics. Can we get all the ugly in the open so we can start to earn our respect back?

Re:can we request the torture vids? (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560517)

The courts had ordered the Pentagon to release additional prison torture pics and vids, stuff Congress had viewed in private and turned a lot of stomachs. Currently the Pentagon is illegally sitting on these pics. Can we get all the ugly in the open so we can start to earn our respect back?

You can find the DoD's FOIA request information here [dod.mil] . I'm not entirely sure which sub department that would fall under but you could try with the military first [army.mil] .

They should help you:

Please note that this office is not a repository for documents maintained or released by the Department of the Army. Requests received in this office will be forwarded to the activity that has the responsibility for the subject matter requested. For a more timely response, please refer to the POC listing to ensure your request is submitted to the proper office.

After reviewing the POC listing, if you are still unsure which agency to contact, you may submit a request to the Department of the Army Freedom of Information Office, 7701 Telegraph Road, Suite 144, Alexandria, VA 22315-3905 and we will attempt to assist you. Requests to this office can also be sent electronically by emailing: DAFOIA@conus.army.mil, or Facsimile (703) 428-6522.

Address: Department of the Army Freedom of Information Act Office 7701 Telegraph Road, Suite 144 Alexandria, VA 22315-3905

E-mail: DAFOIA@conus.army.mil Telephone: COMM (703) 428-6504 or DSN 328-6504 Facsimile: COMM (703) 428-6522 or DSN 328-6522

FOIA requesters who have any questions concerning the processing of their requests at the US Army Freedom of Information Act Office, should contact this center at (703) 428-6504. If you are not satisfied with the response from the center, you may contact the FOIA Public Liaisons, Mr. Robert Dickerson or Mr. Steven A. Raho, at (703)428-6504, Army_FOIA_Liaison@conus.army.mil.

There's a handbook online [dod.mil] if you have questions. If you want something from the State department or FCC, they have pretty easy request forms online. I'm thinking you'll just get a big fat rejection but who knows?

Re:can we request the torture vids? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560553)

The question I have for Obama is this: Who is stimulating the economy? Me, the guy who has provided 14 people good paying jobs and serves over 200,000 people per year with a flourishing business? Or, the single fat colored mammy sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check?

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

Cormacus (976625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560631)

fat colored

Urrr . . . what color is "fat," exactly?

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561003)

fat colored Urrr . . . what color is "fat," exactly?

Whitish yellow.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561417)

single fat colored mammy sitting at home pregnant with her fourth child waiting for her next welfare check

Bigot much?

Twatwaffle.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561495)

I doubt you have stimulated yourself or anyone else for years.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560525)

Agreed, there's been a lack of good comedy lately and we all need something to laugh at.

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na Batman! [typepad.com] Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-a...

"...the 30...the 20...the 10...And, he fumbles! The shirts recover the ball and it's down [photobucket.com] on the 8 yard line!"

Zed: Bring out the Gimp. [wordpress.com]
Maynard: Gimp's [wordpress.com] sleeping.
Zed: Well, I guess you're gonna have to go wake him up now, won't you?

Re:can we request the torture vids? (4, Insightful)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560621)

There might be a real reason not to release the raw info on this to the public.

1) Protect the folks who may have given up information under torture from retaliation
2) Protect Soldiers who under orders committed torture from retaliation

While some of this stuff needs to be released the equivalent of a words being blacked out is appropriate. For the victims and for the soldiers (who should be tried in court (military or civil) before their identities are relaeased.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (5, Insightful)

BorgDrone (64343) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560877)

Protect Soldiers who under orders committed torture from retaliation

I agree with your first point, but IMHO soldiers who committed torture do not deserve protection. They could and should have refused to execute their orders.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (3, Informative)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561489)

I agree with your first point, but IMHO soldiers who committed torture do not deserve protection. They could and should have refused to execute their orders.

Actually, soldiers are generally not any more privvy to information than you are. They're just told "this guy has information that will prevent <X-Deadly-Action>, and I need you to get it out of him." Of course, the soldier is trained to A) follow orders B) not worry about the ramifications (don't believe everything the army tells you about wanting brains) and C) is usually an 18-24 year old who wants to do the right thing.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (4, Insightful)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561613)

None of this explains how this absolves them of guilt. The same could be said of Nazi prison camp guards. They were told the jews and other political prisoners were dangerous and were destroying German society.

It's not sufficient to be willing to die following orders. You must also be willing to die for disobeying immoral orders. Otherwise you're just a mercenary.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561693)

Soldiers systematically have their capacity to reason removed from them. We know that this turns them into soulless reactive drones who will never be real "leaders", this is why we honor them: the sacrifices they have made to keep us safe.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (3, Insightful)

rhakka (224319) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560897)

no one who commits torture for any reason should be protected from retaliation, orders or not.

Illegal orders are still illegal, and our military personnel are trained to know that. Ignoring it and doing it just because "it's orders" is not a justifiable defense, IMO.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (5, Insightful)

Gavagai80 (1275204) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561009)

Anyone who commits murder is entitled to protection from the lynch mobs. Why not soldiers who commit torture?

Re:can we request the torture vids? (4, Insightful)

rhakka (224319) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561099)

good point, but lynch mob protection is not achieved by obscuring the identity of the perpetrator if the charge is murder. Criminal charges are a matter of public record.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561585)

Criminal charges before or after a judge has ruled on them? It would become quite scary if being arrested for some crime and later released for being not guilty to that crime would still have your name connected to the case in a public record.

Identities of criminals should be released only AFTER conviction, if only because before conviction, they are not criminals (or at least not found guilty to that particular crime). These videos are mere evidence, not convictions. A judge will have to decide on that first.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

illegalcortex (1007791) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561659)

Before. You may not like it, but this is what we as a society have decided.

These videos are state property. As such, they are public property.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561113)

Thanks, thats kind of what I was getting at.. You said it better than I..

Re:can we request the torture vids? (2, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561537)

The repercussions for a soldier of not following orders may be severe (in wartime this may be execution, and the US is formally at war against terror, drugs, and some other wars here and there).

Furthermore, how can a soldier judge which orders are illegal? In case of torture: there is the fine line between allowed interrogation techniques and torturous interrogation techniques. Some say water boarding is OK, others say it is torture. How can a simple soldier judge this? Should he? He's a soldier after all, not a judge. His superiors are supposed to judge for him what is allowed or not, and based on their superiorness give orders. Until it goes to the obvious illegal (shooting defenceless people, rape) - it is not that easy.

The superiors giving the orders are at least as much as fault as the soldier following them, maybe even more. Those superiors got into their jobs for being supposedly better at making decisions, knowing what is right (legal) or not.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (0, Troll)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561545)

Soldiers aren't really trained in much law beyond some really basic stuff involving the UCMJ. Anything involving fine details generally requires a military lawyer.

I can't imagine how an effective military would be hampered if every soldier had to consult a lawyer about the legality of his actions every time he was given an order.

Sgt: "Privates! Ready, Aim! Fire!"
Pvt: "Sgt, I need to consult my lawyer first."

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

Zarim (1167823) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561645)

"It's orders" is a justifiable defense. Studies have shown that people follow orders from authority figures remarkably well.

Milgram experiment [wikipedia.org]

Re:can we request the torture vids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560911)

1) Protect the folks who may have given up information under torture from retaliation

Thats why they have those black marker pens.

2) Protect Soldiers who under orders committed torture from retaliation

Protect them from who? For torturing someone, they should be quite protected in prison.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (0, Troll)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561011)

"Protect them from who? For torturing someone, they should be quite protected in prison."

Vigilante justice either from their victims or from other people who might do harm before a trial can be conducted. Lets say Bill really was in a terrorist group and Sam tortured him and got info. When Bills higher ups get Sams ID his family and friends might not be safe. This is something to consider *especially* when Sam has not yet had a trial..

Re:can we request the torture vids? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561199)

At best, the pictures should be marked up so the soldiers can get a fair trial.

We don't deny public information because someone in a murderer's family might be murdered out of vendetta. What makes torture any different? Because you said terrorist? That's nonsense.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561329)

"We don't deny public information because someone in a murderer's family might be murdered out of vendetta. What makes torture any different? Because you said terrorist? That's nonsense."

Reality makes it different.

These are soldiers who were following orders and while they can and should be imprisoned if they tortured the mitigating circumstances of being *at war* can not be ignored especially as our current 'war' is not with a nation state but rather an international organization.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1, Insightful)

indifferent children (842621) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561637)

When the charge is "torture", being "at war" is not a mitigating circumstance. If anything that just adds War Crime charges on top of the Human Rights Violations.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561393)

Vigilante justice either from their victims or from other people who might do harm before a trial can be conducted.

We don't generally withhold information relevant to the identities of potential perpetrators of even the most notorious crimes for that reason, so, while I agree that they are entitled from protection from vigilante justice just as all people are, I don't find that this would even begin to be a legitimate reason to withhold the material being discussed.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561445)

I never said with hold info I said edit.. Distort appearances and voices.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561577)

I never said with hold info I said edit.. Distort appearances and voices.

Editing to obscure information is withholding information, and we don't do that to protect the identity of people who may have perpetrated crimes in any other circumstances to protect their identities. That's not how we protect people against vigilante justice.

Re:can we request the torture vids? (1)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561611)

Acts committed by soldiers at war are legally different than civil actions. That's why we have different codes to dictate behavior to treat this like a mugging or rape spits in the face of the fact we have had to establish both National and International laws regarding the conduct of soldiers.

What? (2, Interesting)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560921)

>> Can we get all the ugly in the open so we can start to earn our respect back?

Yeah. That worked so well with Abu Ghraib.

Help the victims. Heal them physically and mentally. Pay them. Acknowledge wrongdoing. Admit guilt. State the facts. Do this all extremely publicly.

But burn those goddamn pictures. All they will do is piss people off, no matter how hard you try to make things right.

Re:What? (1)

fpophoto (1382097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561041)

But burn those goddamn pictures.

I understand your sentiment, but how you're going to dispose of pixels [google.com] , I'll never know.

Re:What? (1)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561401)

BURN THEM!

Re:What? (5, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561079)

Let's play Situation Replacement, shall we?

----

Location: Germany
When: December 1945

>> Can we get all the ugly from the Holocaust in the open so we can start to earn our respect back?

Help the victims. Heal them physically and mentally. Pay them. Acknowledge wrongdoing. Admit guilt. State the facts. Do this all extremely publicly.

But burn those goddamn pictures. All they will do is piss people off, no matter how hard you try to make things right.

----

Sometimes the ugly needs to be seen.

Not only that... (4, Insightful)

Jabbrwokk (1015725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561355)

Good point, and not only that, but if the ugly isn't out in the open, eventually people will forget.

If we didn't have all those awful photos and films of holocaust victims and emaciated survivors, in 20 years once all the people are dead who lived through that time period revisionist historians could argue that the holocaust really wasn't all that bad, and people would believe them.

First-hand sources -- diaries, pictures, films, videos -- keep us all honest.

Re:Not only that... (5, Insightful)

troll8901 (1397145) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561601)

Well said.

Same as Japan. Currently their education ministers are trying their damnest best to hide all the torture and massacre [wikipedia.org] information.

Japanese children grew up not knowing the crimes against humanity that their forefathers did 65 years ago.

Re:What? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561381)

But burn those goddamn pictures. All they will do is piss people off, no matter how hard you try to make things right.

Fuck no, then a generation or two later it never happened or it wasn't quite like the old timers remember...

Score for current slashdot poll (2, Interesting)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560377)

So, one point for "Technology Policy" ? The rest are still 0?

Re:Score for current slashdot poll (4, Insightful)

Xiph (723935) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560409)

Transparency of government is not a technology issue, it's an administrative issue.
Technology is just what is used to distribute information.

so +1 for "Administration policies"
also he gets +1 for taking the neutrality captain on board, that is a technology point

Re:Score for current slashdot poll (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560869)

(IANAUSC; I Am Not A US Citizen.)

A transparent government where citizens can moderate and verify what the government does is arguably important because it gives the citizens more power to make informed judgements.

All too often I've seen in my country -which has something similar as FOIA- arguments why information should be withheld while it is important for the citizens to obtain this information. Think about something such as electronic voting and electronic medical files. The legal framework is there, but often some kind of lame technical argument is used to withhold information while it is CLEARLY in the interest of the public; the citizens.

Transparency has the potention to increase the democratic value of a State. But one must be careful that there is not too much information; this means careful consideration must be concerned when citizens or journalists hash through the huge piles of information obtained from FOIA framework.

In this case, it also allows the citizens to check the right- and wrongdoings of a previous administration while at the same time provide a legal basis for the citizens to verify the current administration. This alone boosts trust of the citizens in the current administration which is smart; the real, long term benefits or the effectiveness of this directive we've got yet to see, and without having it read is difficult to discuss.

Re:Score for current slashdot poll (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561547)

Why bother making an IANA acronym if you're going to spell it out anyway :/

Re:Score for current slashdot poll (1)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561219)

Hey, you're not supposed to complain about the lack of Slashdot poll options :>

Plus, just about every memo and edict issued by the Barack Administration is an administration policy.

Plus, they mentioned ".gov websites" :P

But I am not a semantics nazi, I just want to play scoreboard :>

Re:Score for current slashdot poll (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560435)

You might consider the suspension of Gitmo trials part of "military policy."

But really, the bailout/infrastructure stuff is the big thing that's coming in the very near future.

Re:Score for current slashdot poll (1)

keithjr (1091829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561365)

Steven Chu's [alternet.org] appointment has been approved by the Senate, so that should count as a +1 to the Science crowd.

Alien Technology? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560391)

Now we can get the information about the Roswell / Area 51 connection!

Re:Alien Technology? (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560465)

I think you'll be dissapointed.

Turns out Area 51 was the dump site for all those unsold Atari 2600 E.T. game carts.

Re:Alien Technology? (1)

fpophoto (1382097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560589)

Turns out Area 51 was the dump site for all those unsold Atari 2600 E.T. game carts.

I know you were going for Funny, but it wouldn't surprise me if that were far closer to the truth than any kind of X-files nonsense.

Re:Alien Technology? (0, Offtopic)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560801)

That ending would be so funny for a fan-made X-Files-style movie.

Re:Alien Technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560689)

i still have my copy of ET and play it occasionally on my 7800 prosystem. that game is truly awful.

Re:Alien Technology? (3, Interesting)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560721)

Personally I think that Occam's razor applies to alien technology and Area 51:

  1. The U.S. government made contact with aliens over 50 years ago, have kept it quiet, and have been developing secret alien technology there.
  2. The U.S. military is experimenting with secret but terrestrial technologies there.

I would think it would be #2. I remember reading about people spotting "triangular-shaped" UFOs in the 80s in that area. Of course UFO conspiracists declared it had to be alien vehicles. Then in 1988, the military acknowledged the existence of the F-117 Stealth Fighter developed by the Skunk Works division of Lockheed Martin.

Interestingly, I think the military allows the UFO enthusiasts to espouse their theories unchecked. Even if their observations are correct (and they were about the F-117), most people would dismiss them due to their theories.

Re:Alien Technology? (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561077)

The U.S. military is experimenting with secret but terrestrial technologies there.

The frustrating part is that the successes of Area 51 are a matter of public record. The U-2 flew out of Area 51, the SR-71 flew out of Area 51, the F-117 was developed out of Area 51. With all these planes known to come out of Area 51, you'd think that people would give up on the whole "aliens from Roswell" thing. There are no flying saucers coming out of that area. Merely highly classified projects throughout the Cold War. There's even evidence to suggest that Area 51 operations have wound down in today's post cold-war culture. (See the government's official admission of Area 51's existence in 2003 for an example.)

Re:Alien Technology? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561379)

Clearly they have moved the alien technology to Area 52!

Re:Alien Technology? (1)

Beefaroni (1229886) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561467)

but where are the Intellivisions?

Re:Alien Technology? (2, Interesting)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560661)

The dirty little secret behind Area 51: that command consists entirely of a captain, a couple of lieutenants, several dozen enlisted men and a whole freakin' lot of printing presses. Their sole brief is to insure a constant stream of leaks to the media, mistakes and suspicious behavior centered around all the exotic alien technology stored there, so that all the effort of breaking the government's veil of secrecy concentrates where there's absolutely nothing to find. This'll make it much easier to conceal the real work elsewhere, since most of the people who might investigate will be occupied out in Nevada.

Re:Alien Technology? (1)

styryx (952942) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561599)

There is a video lecture series (wave physics 101 stylee) I can't remember the exact video but it was Berkley and Professor Richard A. Muller. The name is definitely correct.

In one of the videos he proposes that what actually occured in Roswell was that the flying saucers (originally discs, and actually disc microphones) were built to listen for Soviet Nuclear detonation tests: there is a specific height in the atmosphere where sound waves spread out on the surface of a sphere (thus energy travels farther); there is a similar effect underwater. It is a pressure/temperature balance effect. A balloon with these flying discs was floated to the appropriate altitude to listen out.

Due to the paranoid nature the military necessarily takes with anything Nuclear, I wouldn't be surprised if it was top secret. Take it for what you will though. I personally believe in alien life on a statistical basis alone; however, show me first hand evidence of them visiting earth (literally bring that mofo to my house and let me shake his ...whatever/hand) or GTFO.

Apologies for spelling, this was a rushed post.

US Use of Drug Traffickers? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560403)

Does this mean that the use of drug trafficking by the Bushes and Clinton will get a decent airing? ... probably not.

links to the memos and order (5, Informative)

jamie (78724) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560411)

I don't think the linked article provides links directly to the memos, but propublica [propublica.org] did, so here they are:

Memo on Transparency and Open Government [amazonaws.com]

Memo on the Freedom of Information Act [amazonaws.com]

And here's the Executive Order on Presidential Records [whitehouse.gov] , which makes clear that claims of secrecy by the former president and his subordinates will be evaluated, and accepted or rejected, by the current president.

FIRST! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560473)

FIST!

"Open" (4, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560475)

Is this on the same website yesterday that said "President Obama has not issued any executive orders" when in fact he had already done several?

Re:"Open" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26560611)

Is this on the same website yesterday that said "President Obama has not issued any executive orders" when in fact he had already done several?

When was that written? In the morning before he started work, or in the afternoon after he issued them?

Re:"Open" (2, Insightful)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561055)

Trying to bury something forever and 24 hour lag are not the same thing.

Re:"Open" (4, Interesting)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561221)

It took about 6 hours before it showed up on the site.

Hate to break it to you, but that's damn quick *especially* when you consider that it was the first day and they were still having issues with some of the staffers even being able to access the White House.

Grow up and use some common sense. Reporting takes a little bit of time. It doesn't just happen the moment the event occurs.

Idea for the website (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560495)

One idea to make their websites more transparent would be to use 32-bit PNGs.

Re:Idea for the website (1)

spud603 (832173) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560571)

Agreed. Bush's transparency-masked GIFs [wikipedia.org] just didn't cut it.

Re:Idea for the website (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560687)

Agreed. Bush's transparency-masked GIFs [wikipedia.org] just didn't cut it.

The other problem with 8-bit GIFs is that they lacked depth.

Re:Idea for the website (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560771)

Which is fine if all you have is a monochromatic view of the world.

FOIA change: excellent... (4, Interesting)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560513)

Now maybe I'll file a FOIA request with the BATFE to reveal the NFA registry contents (with personal names & addresses redacted, of course) to demonstrate errors and abuses, especially involving 922(o). Don't see how, under this EO, they could say "no". Results could be VERY interesting...

(If you don't grok that, Google is your friend.)

Re:FOIA change: excellent... (2, Interesting)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560893)

Google reveals: (all of this subject to verification that I'm not going to do)

1. Won't happen unless you own the firearm because the records are considered tax-payer information.

2. Some politicians might be slipping past the 1986 automatic weapons ban to register addition weapons and sell them for campaign money

3. The exemption on paying the $200 tax stamp has been extended to members of law enforcement agencies purchasing them for duty use, while formally it applied only to orders made by the department proper.

4. It also might just be weapons that were registered being re-registered as the BATF admits to loosing roughly 50% of the pre-1968 records.

I personally don't care how many of those are true. If you have $10,000 to buy a full-auto M16 (and just keep those prices going up if you wanted a M60 or an import MP5 etc etc) manufactured before 1986 you probably have enough money to find a way to obtain one illegally outside of BATF regulation. Once again gun control laws only keep those who play by the rules from getting what they want.

I am kinda curious though which one OP was interested in.

In particular (2, Interesting)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561325)

I am kinda curious though which one OP was interested in.

Aside from general curiosity and expectation that a peek in the registry would reveal some surprising facts...

Per your comments:

1. I'm wondering if "taxpayer information" could, under the new FOIA rules, be revealed so long as personally identifying info (name, address, etc.) was redacted. I don't care so much about who has registered, I'm wondering if certain obscure loopholes have been used to register otherwise prohibited items at all.

2. That's the loophole [ab]use I'm primarily interested in: whether obtuse wording in 922(o) has resulted in backroom deals to legally (letter of law, decidedly not spirit thereof) register otherwise prohibited new items. I can't find any above-board use of the exception at all, despite the usefulness & desirability of the banned products to many. Methinks some are pulling strings to quietly get new stuff that the rest of us would have to pay a 2000% markup for just to get old/used versions, if available at all.

3. Police are specifically exempted. I'm also curious how far that exemption is being stretched ("you are hereby an honorary deputy - now where's your $1400 for that new M4 you wanted? Yes it's legal, just don't tell anybody.").

4. Can't re-register those (not to be confused with "I've got the paperwork to prove it, even if the BATFE lost their copy"). No amnesties have been granted for a _long_ time.

Many of us DO care if any of these are true. Obtaining a real M16 illegally is not an option, even if you've got the $20,000 for one (20+ years old and well used, as opposed to recent-manufactured listing for $1400 for those who can get 'em legally), as the penalty is $250,000 and 10 years in federal prison. Some of us DO want to play by the rules.

What this OP really wants is his own M4.

Re:FOIA change: excellent... (1)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561007)

I'll settle with ACTA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement)

Re:FOIA change: excellent... (3, Insightful)

ratnerstar (609443) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561023)

I'd also be interested in seeing the registry of the National Flute Association. It's time the flutists of America were driven out of the shadows!

Seriously dude, spell out your acronyms; it's just common courtesy.

Re:FOIA change: excellent... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561237)

Flautists, dude. Flautists.

Know the audience (0)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561525)

Seriously dude, spell out your acronyms; it's just common courtesy.

On a geek board like /.? Geeks revel in acronyms and expect the intended audience to know them. If you don't know, or are unwilling to look them up, you're not in the intended audience.

In this particular case,
- those interested in the obscure subject matter already know the acronyms and use them as compelete terms without spelling them out (just like "SATA", "IBM", "USB", etc.).
- too many of those who don't already know the terms are, as /.'s recent "killer app" discussion shows, are likely to respond with obnoxious & ignorant postings if they did see those acronyms & terms explained up front.
- those who already know, or are willing to spend a few seconds looking up those terms, are much more likely to engage in interesting & reasoned debate. I'm tired of the hostile bigoted hysteria of those not so inclined.

Nice Move by Obama (4, Insightful)

FireStormZ (1315639) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560541)

I'm going to disagree with Obama more than I will agree with him but one should give credit where it is due... Open information is *critical* to nurture an informed populace and an informed populace is needed to care for a representative government.

Re:Nice Move by Obama (2, Insightful)

slick_rick (193080) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560711)

Yeah, bashing him for a move like this is kinda like tossing a sack full of kittens into a lake. I was not terribly impressed with Mr. Obama or Mc. Cain, but I'm willing to give anyone a chance. So far so good, more transparency, taking steps to close camp X-Ray. At this rate, and if he gets my extended family members who are in Iraq home soon I may even come to like him. But then again we are only two days in ;-)

Re:Nice Move by Obama (3, Insightful)

d3ac0n (715594) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560929)

As a Conservative I am also more likely to disagree with what Obama's decisions and policy. But even I find this refreshing and good. The extreme secrecy lent to presidential and governmental documentation, current and past was not something I agreed with President Bush on. I'm happy to see Obama reverse this.

Other conservatives agree as well. [hotair.com]

Re:Nice Move by Obama (2, Informative)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561239)

taking steps to close camp X-Ray

Wow, you really like keeping up with current events, huh? Camp X-Ray was shut down almost 7 years ago. Those images of orange jump suited inmates walking around behind a chain link fence with tents in the background that the media keep playing are 7+ year old footage of the temporary Camp X-Ray. Camp Delta is the permanent facility used since Camp X-Ray shut down in April 2002.

Re:Nice Move by Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561103)

Look on the bright side, with his naive and idiotic "open government" policy, we'll be able to find all sorts of evidence to impeach him much quicker than we impeached Clinton. Obama

Re:Nice Move by Obama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561671)

yeah! because presidents who *aren't* committing crimes against humanity and actively destroying the nation are the ones we want to get rid of!

seriously, do us all a favor, find yourself a long staircase and trip.

and then die in a fire.

you fucking Coulterite.

Re:Nice Move by Obama (1)

klaun (236494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561527)

I'm going to disagree with Obama more than I will agree with him

Well the important thing is you are keeping and open mind! No, wait...

I am not a lawyer, but... (2, Interesting)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560577)

Does this executive order [whitehouse.gov] seem a little contradictory to anyone else (boost the "executive privilege" stonewall)?

Admittedly, I may be misreading or misunderstanding it. My question is sincere.

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (2, Insightful)

fpophoto (1382097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560675)

This is why we were chiding the conservatives for years. They had no problem with Bush and Cheney's (mis)use of executive privilege, no matter how many times we told them they'd be howling about it once a Dem got in office.

Bad policy is bad policy, no matter what side of the aisle you're on.

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (2, Insightful)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560751)

(boost the "executive privilege" stonewall)?

Since I don't know what preceeded it, I don't know the change. But it does seem reasonable. As I read it:

The archivist gets all this stuff. He flags anything that may be sensitive to executive privledge. He notifies the former president whose administration created it and the current president and AG. The current president can withhold things. The former president can then ask the archivist to withhold those files, but the AG then has to sign off.

And then, if no one says boo, it gets published after 30 days.

It seems pretty reasonable to me, since there is an executive privledge. This one at least has periodic oversight by new executives.

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560935)

That suggests that the current President/AG can override a former president's request for privilege?

That's what I thought initially, but there's this bit...

"Any determination under section 3 of this order that executive privilege shall not be invoked by the incumbent President shall not prejudice the Archivist's determination with respect to the former President's claim of privilege."

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (3, Interesting)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561059)

This executive order is basically the same one that was created post-Watergate to try and ensure Presidential records were published and archived for posterity. Bush revoked it in a widely criticised move, Obamas EO revokes the revocation and is otherwise identically worded, except that it also now covers the Vice President, which can only be an improvement. So basically on day 1 of his new Presidency Obama is already undoing some of the damage Bush caused :)

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (1)

rednip (186217) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561039)

Does this executive order [whitehouse.gov] seem a little contradictory to anyone else

Only if you don't compare it to the Bush executive order which it replaces. Basically, it'll make it really hard for Bush to continue to hide the crimes of his administration.

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561105)

Can't seem to find the text of that one to compare. Got a link? (No, this is not a [citation needed] style challenge. I'd like to compare them)

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (1)

Amazing Quantum Man (458715) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561125)

It was sealed under Executive Privilege.`

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (5, Informative)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561193)

It makes perfect sense to me. Basic guildelines:The Archivist of the Presidential records is in charge of maintaining the records. Obama's Executive Order:
  • Archivist will notify the current or former Presidents the intent to disclose records.
  • That President will have 30 days to object or claim executive privilege.
  • If executive privilege is invoked, the Archivist will not release said records until a determination by the Attorney General, Counsel to the current President, etc to determine if executive privilege applies.
  • If determined not privileged, the records will be released.

This is different from Bush's Executive Order 13233 which states:

  • The Archivist must wait 12 years after the President has left office before any records are released.
  • The Archivist must wait 90 days between notifying a President or former President of intent to release and the actual release.
  • The records of a former President can only be released if the former Presidents concurs with the current President that they can be released.

In Bush's Order, a former President can keep his records from being disclosed indefinitely simply by objecting to the release. No claim of privilege is required and no provision is made to override the objection. Under Obama, only executive privilege can keep records from being release and even then that claimed is reviewed. IANAL but that's how I interpreted it. Any lawyers care to comment.

Re:I am not a lawyer, but... (2, Insightful)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561335)

Jesus, that IS an improvement, if it's as you say.

Wow.

Obama's Staff Trims robots.txt (4, Interesting)

CrtxReavr (62039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26560789)

I found this very interesting:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/robots.txt [whitehouse.gov]

The WhiteHouse.gov website's robots.txt file has been trimmed to:

          User-agent: *
          Disallow: /includes/

Under previous administrations it was pages long. I suppose this may bode well for openness.

-CR

Re:Obama's Staff Trims robots.txt (4, Informative)

joggle (594025) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561369)

The main page is also perfect XHTML code according to w3.org's validator. I don't know whether this was true for the previous administration's website or not. The code's also very readable, not sure what tool they used to create it though.

Re:Obama's Staff Trims robots.txt (5, Informative)

uhmmmm (512629) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561407)

This has been debunked on reddit and probably other places.

1) Bush's robots.txt began very similarly to Obama's, it grew later. Obama's robots.txt file starting small proves nothing. Look again in a year and see what it looks like then.
2) The pages disallowed by Bush's robots.txt file were (almost?) all printer-friendly versions of pages which were not excluded. The information was still there and accessible to spiders.

I'm no Bush fan, but let's limit the bashing to things that are actually true and meaningful, shall we?

Re:Obama's Staff Trims robots.txt (1)

genner (694963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561667)

I found this very interesting:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/robots.txt [whitehouse.gov]

The WhiteHouse.gov website's robots.txt file has been trimmed to:

User-agent: * Disallow: /includes/

Under previous administrations it was pages long. I suppose this may bode well for openness.

-CR

Well at least we know which directory has the incriminating evidence.

And that's not all! (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561001)

While this is not entirely related to freedom of information, it is related to transparency, shining light on government corruption and rapid changes storming the executive.

http://www.cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=42299 [cnsnews.com]

This article reports what I heard over NPR on the drive home yesterday. The revolving door that has been a peeve to me and many others is being addressed in Obama's actions. A lot of people who set their lives up using te good ole boy system of mutual mack scratching will be very upset by this... and I hope they are! It is time these despicable practices come to an end.

Sounds Fishy to Me (5, Funny)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561013)

Hmmm, I don't know - being allowed to just "know" what the government is doing seems a little fishy. How are they supposed to keep us terrified and docile if they can't pretend that they always, just barely, have the boogeyman on the point of a knife -- but it's too dangerous to let us see him? And if we are not terrified and docile, how can they maintain their lack of accountability? The lack of accountability that is the very hallmark of the modern United States political system.

Honestly - the ideas this guy comes up with...

Vote Barack! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561037)

Barack Obama.
All the world's problems, solved.
Overnight.

Privacy (2, Interesting)

Ohio Calvinist (895750) | more than 5 years ago | (#26561047)

I just hope the government doesn't swing too far, and start exposing all that mountains of data programs produced under prgrams started by Bush; without first doing a real through check to see what kind of data is actually there. I'm only afraid the new cabinet will steamroll this EO to make Obama "look" effective without considering the true risk(s) associated with some of that information.

However, I've always felt it is the right for a citizen (or consumer) to aquire data from any agency which collects data about him/her self in unfiltered form, regardless of the risk(s).

will the data be in open formats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26561323)

Will the data be in open formats or will there be lip service to the openness and proprietary technologies used to restrict access beneath a PR fascade of change?

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