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Utah Repeals Anti-Transparency Law

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the opacity-the-law-for-behives-and-ski-mountains dept.

Government 80

oddjob1244 writes "After enduring two weeks of public fury, Utah lawmakers voted Friday to repeal a bill that would have restricted public access to government records. While Senate President Michael Waddoups accused the media of lobbying on the issue and others blamed the press for biased coverage that turned citizens against them, Sen. Steve Urquhart said bluntly: 'We messed up. It is nobody's fault but ours.'"

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80 comments

We won? (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618526)

cupcakes in salt lake tomorrow anyone?

Re:We won? (4, Informative)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618830)

The Legislature, led by the Senate isn't done. Senate President Michael Waddoups said Monday, "We’re not going to repeal it until we have something to replace it with.” This is just intermission, the fat lady hasn't sung.

Re:We won? (2, Interesting)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618922)

they'll probably replace it with a law that says you have a sign a form and put your self on a public registry every time you buy something with caffeine in it.

On a side if not entirely off topic note, I've come to the conclusion that there are (at least) 4 points to the political spectrum, not 2:

1. Conservative
2. Liberal
3. Progressive
4. Regressive

I've come to the conclusion that most republican candidates are Conservative/Regressive while many Democratic candidates are Liberal/Progressive. Libertarians are Regressive/Liberal, and most of the remaining parties are some point in between those 3. People who are highly Progressive aren't represented by a political party that I know of. Note that I am listing the stronger trait first.

Progressive means your goal is to fix what is wrong, Regressive means your goal is to revert back to the way things were or to intentionally ignore what is wrong based on philosophy. Progressive people don't necessarily make things better (not every engineer is a GOOD engineer), it is simply their goal to make things better.

Re:We won? (2)

aekafan (1690920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619022)

Progressive means your goal is to fix what is wrong

This only works if you believe that your solution will fix something that is inherently broken. I keep hearing people in parts the spectrum you mention saying how they are the ones with the right solution. Every time they get power though, it keeps getting worse.

Where would those of us whom do not believe in even the possibility of good government (no matter who is in charge), fit into your neat categories there?

Re:We won? (3, Insightful)

ppanon (16583) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620312)

Don't go looking for good government from those who claim that good government is not possible. They have every motivation to prove themselves right, consciously and subconsciously.

Re:We won? (1)

pestie (141370) | more than 3 years ago | (#35621636)

Where would those of us whom do not believe in even the possibility of good government (no matter who is in charge), fit into your neat categories there?

I think you'd find them filed under "assholes."

Re:We won? (1)

starfire83 (923483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35627874)

Besides that I thought we called those misguided, stuck-in-adolescence people "anarchists".

Re:We won? (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619322)

Your definition of "progressive" bears very little resemblance to any actual political party or movement bearing that label. I fear that you have taken the bait and fallen enamored with the word --- "Oh yeah, progressive, that must be good. I'm for progress" --- and failed to recognize the only thing that they have a desire to progress is the power of the state.

You've even invented the obvious complementary position with which to paint the "foes of making things better"

Well, let me remind you of one of the policies of the actual progressive movement. A policy that lead to the rise in power of organized crime: Prohibition.

So, let's stop demonizing people here. Everyone with a political philosophy has the goal of fixing what's wrong, although there are wildly varying opinions on how to achieve that, and what exactly it is that is wrong.

Well, everyone that is, except those whose philosophy is "say anything to get as much for myself as possible, and to hell with everyone else." Unfortunately, this latter group, although I'd like to believe it is the smallest of the philosophies, is uncommonly good at actually achieving office...

Re:We won? (4, Insightful)

517714 (762276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620020)

Reactionary is the correct term for what he described as regressive, and he did not make them up. They do not wish to make things worse, but they do wish to undue certain aspects of "progress" Many fundamentalists regardless of name of their god are reactionary. Back to nature groups, survivalists, Amish, Hutterites, Mennonites, a lot of Mormons, America First groups are all reactionary to varying degrees.

Re:We won? (2)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620698)

I fervently disagree... I would consider myself fairly pragmatic with some libertarian ideals. I find that it isn't practical to completely revert to the constitution, but do find the current levels of taxation, and bloat in government to be more inhibiting than progressive. Bureaucracy breeds inaction. I do find it is the role of government to provide for defense and common infrastructure. It is the limits of what can be considered essential common infrastructure that is open to interpretation. However, I do feel that a government that was more limited with that POV would work out better. Neither the dems or repubs really support that and the groups you mention above are very far from describing me.

Re:We won? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620762)

However, I do feel that a government that was more limited with that POV would work out better.

The problem is that if you make the government weaker, the corporations and the rich elite gets more powerful since there's less to oppose them, thus making things worse for everyone else.

Re:We won? (3, Insightful)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620888)

There's nothing to oppose them anyway, much of their power comes from buying off the government, and then getting the government to ignore its own laws to get more power...

Re:We won? (1)

Omestes (471991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622746)

So your not "progressive" or "regressive" (or "reactionary"), your a fatalist. At best a cynic.

Re:We won? (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35714450)

Well, there is one thing that can oppose them.

Problem is, it's the second amendment...

Re:We won? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35625502)

BULLSHIT!
1. The people have the power to oppose them. Spread the word of their misdeeds. Stop buying their shit. Get creative.
2. It is the far-reaching power of the Federal government that attracts so much lobbying and corruption.
3. A Federal government that is less involved in your daily life still has the power to protect your rights.

Re:We won? (1)

ncgnu08 (1307339) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620318)

I'm not posting as to argue with you zipp, but to clarify hopefully. I believe Jimbo was referring more to his feelings/observations rather than precise terminology. Also, the "progressive" that you relate to Prohibition comes out of the "Progressive Era" (late 1800's - early 1900's). While the Progressives of this era were mostly supporters of Prohibition (not all Progressives supported Prohibition), the idea and support of Prohibition came less from pure Progressive ideals and more from the elevation of women's rights and and women's suffrage movement ascending through the Progressive cause of that time period. The "Progressive" Jimbo refers to (I believe) is less of a political party and more of a set of ideals about the role of government in modern society. The Progressives of today would definitely not support Prohibition (or the majority of them) nor do they support the Prohibition of marijuana, due to the lessons learned from the Prohibition of alcohol. Just as Prohibition gave rise to organized crime (as you point out), prohibition or "The War on Drugs" is the main reason for cartels and the crime that goes along with the black market (most governments did not seem to pay attention to the lessons of Prohibition). As Progressives seek to better society through science, technology, education, and government reform, the "Modern Progressive" movement has little resemblance to the "Progressive Era" as science and technology and general knowledge have advanced much since 1920. Modern Progressives are far more likely to support "single-payer universal health-care," environmental issues, and strengthening/protection of the middle class from corporations (although "progressive" changes depending on what country you are in/from).

While labels like these can be confusing and counterproductive, if we are going to use said labels it is important to very clear about that which we mean to say. IMO it is much more important to debate/discuss individual issues rather than trying to lump everything into broad political parties. I think we can all agree the partisanship we see today is much more counterproductive than anything single issue we face as a country. My main point was just to clarify "progressive" as I would identify many of my political and social beliefs as "progressive" yet I have little in common with the "Progressive Era" from a hundred years ago. I find the political landscape can be very frustrating as I often identify with Democrats, while other times I am on the side of Republicans. However with today's "all or nothing" partisanship it can be very difficult to work with either party to make "progress," which after all, is the goal.

Re:We won? (1)

Omestes (471991) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622740)

...and failed to recognize the only thing that they have a desire to progress is the power of the state.

Partisan rhetoric much? In what reputable and objective source is the term defined as such? If I say "conservatives are defined as an ideology that wants to cater only to rich people and let the poor starve in ditches" am I being as accurate as you? I'm not arguing that quote is the case, but many would.

I'm somewhat progressive, but still am a (social) libertarian (lowercase "l:). I want the state to be as weak as possible, while still supporting the people who constitute it. Yes, I'm in favor of schools, education grants, corporate responsibility, etc... But I'm also in favor of gutting the military, large swaths of the criminal justice system, vast reams of laws, and having the government get mostly out of my life. Perhaps the government should be "bigger" when it comes to supporting its population, but smaller when it comes to meddling in banal affairs where no individual is harmed.

The basis of this view is that the government's only goal is the wellbeing of its individual citizens, and the health of society as a whole.

A policy that lead to the rise in power of organized crime: Prohibition.

Huh? Wasn't that helped along by the religious folks, and the "family values" people? Do you consider banning gay marriage as a "progressive" issue too? Doing a quick search of the Wikipedia article on prohibition, there is one mention of the term "progressive", and it is about Bahrain allowing alcohol. There is one mention of the term in the article on the US prohibition, and it says something along the lines of "among other groups progressives supported it", which is pretty meaningless, and doesn't mean that they were the exclusive supporters or even biggest advocates. One mention isn't very strong.

I could also point of several policies that supporters of your favorite political dogma supported which ended badly. Thats the fun thing about political ideologies, people hold their pet political dogma over the actual real human consequences. Right, left; conservative; liberal, progressive, whatever its opposite is called... they all have this problem since they all have a body of blind true believers. I'm deeply suspect of anyone who holds their mere political opinion to be divine truth.

So, let's stop demonizing people here. Everyone with a political philosophy has the goal of fixing what's wrong, although there are wildly varying opinions on how to achieve that, and what exactly it is that is wrong.

Perhaps I grossly misread everything previous to this statement... but isn't that just what you were doing?

eh, I see his point re: Progressives (1)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 3 years ago | (#35682446)

The abolitionists (anti-slavery being quite progressive) tended to also be prohibitionists.

I like to think of it as "nobody has a monopoly on bad ideas".

The larger point, progressives want to expand the power of the state, is a little fallacious.

That really ties into paternalism, how hard/soft do you like it (if at all), and where is it appropriate. Those questions/answers don't fall on either side of the political spectrum, I think. (e.g. Republicans believe in hard paternalism when it comes to a woman's body, whilst Democrats tend to believe in paternalism when it comes to health care)

Re:We won? (1)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622822)

So, let's stop demonizing people here.

You say that right after you finish demonizing the "progressive" parties. He recognized that "progressive" isn't necessarily better.

Re:We won? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35639114)

Not everyone with a political philosophy believes they are naturally superior to a large part of the human race and therefore if things were just left in their natural state, they'd come out on top. That's the providence of Republicans and Libertarians. That's *really* what underlies their motivation-a kind of social Darwinism eased only slightly by the charity of the can-dos (themselves, in their imaginations) towards the (undeserving) can-not-dos.

It's not like we all just reasoned our way to our individual political philosophies. People are born with more or less selfish dispositions and more or less competitive natures and more or less regard for themselves and more or less empathy. What set of dispositions you were born with determine which team you choose to play on.

The thing is, not all those teams produce the same kind of civilizations, and some of those teams would certainly destroy all civilization.

Or in other words, climate change deniers.

Re:We won? (1)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619606)

As a Poli Sci student it seems that your definitions for Progressive and Regressive actually fit the real (not the screwed up American usage) definitions for the words Liberal and Conservative.

Re:We won? (1)

Jessified (1150003) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622802)

Re:We won? (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | more than 3 years ago | (#35639586)

The political spectrum as such is a big misnomer. At best a jumping off place. It's actually a big loop, in which the further left or right a group goes, the less distinguishable the groups get, until at the "furthest" extremes, left and right become functionally indistinguishable.

Re:We won? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622978)

On a side if not entirely off topic note, I've come to the conclusion that there are (at least) 4 points to the political spectrum, not 2:

1. Conservative
2. Liberal
3. Progressive
4. Regressive

Hey, it's Utah, which means you forgot the most important point of their political spectrum - MORMON! The "Church" owns the state, at least the legislature.

No. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618558)

You didn't "mess up", except in the very limited and weasely sense that you 'miscalculated the level of bullshit that you could get away with'.

I'm pretty sure that you didn't just trip on your way into the state senate and accidentally draft and pass a bill. That would be "messing up". You can't do something that complex just by accident.

While the attempt to simultaneously diminish your guilt and 'take responsibility' is rather cute, it is entirely false. Everyone who assisted in passing this bill didn't "mess up", they quite deliberately tried to get away with something. The only 'error' involved was miscalculating what they could get away with.

Re:No. (5, Insightful)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618920)

While Senate President Michael Waddoups accused the media of lobbying on the issue and others blamed the press for biased coverage

Let's not forget that one either. That there are people that won't admit any part of it is wrong. That there exists a "unbiased" view of anti-transparency that would convince the average citizen that transparency is bad for our society.

These people are the exact type of people that have no business being in government.

If you can't understand that all information, ALL INFORMATION, that the government possesses, creates, or receives is the PROPERTY of The People... then you are completely unsuited to be a champion of the people, a guardian of our ideals, specifically those relating to freedom.

The only exceptions that I will accept as reasonable are a very narrow area regarding national security.

Trade negotiations are NOT national security, and the bus schedules are not owned by the government in a way that allows them to enjoy copyrights.

The biggest problem with this story is this Waddoups douchnozzle that does not understand any of this and, right at this moment, still thinks he is right.

The Senator is just a weasel as you said.

Re:No. (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620090)

The only exceptions that I will accept as reasonable are a very narrow area regarding national security

I agree, but I've never found a clear way to define that.

Obviously information regarding forces in a war should be classified. Is Libya a war? Ooops. Today's policitican can't even define war.

OK. You and I can define war. So let's say that we restrict classification to information regarding forces in a war. What about new weapons systems? OK. Troops in war, and weapons systems.

What's a weapons system? Your tank runs Linux. Linux is part of a weapons system. Linux is classified. Ooops.

Then, don't even get me started on homeland security.

It all boils down to judgement. Yep. No getting around it. We actually have to judge stuff. Trade negotiations. Plainly they should be public. Identities of CIA agents working in hostile countries. Plainly classified. It's like pornography. You know it when you see it.

Re:No. (3, Insightful)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620482)

The national security loophole is bullshit. Here's why:

An informed electorate is vital to the continued existence of a democracy. A democracy that keeps information regarding its own activities from its electorate endangers itself. Thus, the national security loophole is itself a danger to national security.

There is no valid reason for a government to ever keep its activities secret from those it governs. The potential conflict of interest is too great- it is reminiscent of the logic puzzles wherein someone of unknown honesty is asked, "Are you a liar?"

Emotional appeals for national security based on the safety of those engaged in espionage are not relevant. The individuals in question, without exception, agreed to exchange their safety for their government's. And, as stated above, invoking national security endangers the invoking government.

Your paraphrasing Potter Stewart's opinion on pornography [wikipedia.org] is apt- in that that opinion is famously subjective and useful only to those who wish to set themselves up as (or be ruled by) potentates.

As for myself, if I must be ruled, I would prefer the rule of law to the rule of man.

Re:No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35620546)

"Emotional appeals for national security based on the safety of those engaged in espionage are not relevant. The individuals in question, without exception, agreed to exchange their safety for their government's. And, as stated above, invoking national security endangers the invoking government."

What. The. Fuck?

Are you trying to demonstrate a reductio ad absurdum, or are you out to win an award for dumbest comment ever on Slashdot? You think that deliberate disclosure of spies' identities is a good thing? Can't think of any really significant deleterious consequences, like ooooh, I don't know, sources and their families being boiled alive by despots like Ahmedinajad bent on revenge? Plus, when coupled with your spectacular suggestion that states hold no secrets at all, a loss of all materially useful insight into what hostile states such as Iran, North Korea et al are doing? What's the government going to do, watch CNN?

And did it never occur to you that spies agreed to take risks on behalf of their governments as part of a bargain rather than in some unqualified way -- you know, in exchange for money, and a promise from the state that it *would keep it's fucking mouth shut* about who they were so as to avoid endangering them more than absolutely necessary?

Congratulations. You've convinced me that Assange may truly have done something harmful: spawning idiotic mindsets like yours.

Re:No. (1)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 3 years ago | (#35627740)

You think that deliberate disclosure of spies' identities is a good thing? Can't think of any really significant deleterious consequences, like ooooh, I don't know, sources and their families being boiled alive by despots like Ahmedinajad bent on revenge? Plus, when coupled with your spectacular suggestion that states hold no secrets at all, a loss of all materially useful insight into what hostile states such as Iran, North Korea et al are doing?

1. I think that spies volunteer their safety and are aware of the risks. Saying that we need to turn our government into a cloak and dagger dictatorship for the sake of the spy's safety is like saying we need to ban flag-burning to protect the U.S.A, a nominal bastion of free speech (which is what allows the flag to burnt in the first place).

2. Can you think of any significant consequences of government secrecy, like, I don't know, the secretive government using its "national security" powers to boil people alive without repercussions? As long as we're going worse case scenario here...

In general, governments aren't competent enough to keep any secrets worth knowing. Allowing them to attempt to just encourages the governing body to engage in practices that, if they were forced to act under scrutiny, they would not.

The only material result of secrecy is the increased amount of shit that hits the fan when the secrets get out. That's the real lesson of wikileaks, and all the "we need to heighten security to prevent this from happening again" completely misses the point.

Re:No. (1)

starfire83 (923483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35627926)

Ideally (very ideally), there would be no need for spies in a world where the governments of all the peoples of the world were completely transparent. Most wars are started by secrets and lies (or politics and religion, same thing). There also probably wouldn't be anything like the media we have right now. It'd be closer to C-SPAN but with, presumably, better looking anchors.

Re:No. (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620686)

There is no valid reason for a government to ever keep its activities secret from those it governs.

Interesting opinion. Back in the real world of shades other than black and white, there are situations where secrecy is required, at least in the short term. It's not much good making a sneak attack on Osama Bin Laden's secret bunker if you go and tell the people you govern that you are just about to do it, as you can be guaranteed that at least one of the people you govern is going to be working for the enemy. Likewise, if you were working undercover as one of Hitlers henchmen it would kind of suck if the fact was placed on the public record - your day would end very badly.

Emotional appeals for national security based on the safety of those engaged in espionage are not relevant. The individuals in question, without exception, agreed to exchange their safety for their government's.

... on the basis that their government would offer them suitable protection, including keeping their identity secret while they were under cover.

I think the trick here is to make sure that the fact is placed on public record as soon as secrecy is no longer required, so that the people keeping the secrets know that they will be held accountable, which is the whole point. If Osama's bunker turned out to actually be an orphanage then the decisions should be publicly investigated.

Re:No. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35621094)

This is why checks and balances are supposed to be good. For when there are legitimate secrets, there should be oversight. The problem is, you're dealing with humans, and the oversight mechanisms have flaws.

Re:No. (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35621292)

This is why checks and balances are supposed to be good. For when there are legitimate secrets, there should be oversight. The problem is, you're dealing with humans, and the oversight mechanisms have flaws.

Until the machines rise up and take over, humans are the best we have.

Re:No. (1)

bye (87770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35621352)

There are much more mundane examples beyond spies and spooks.

Think everyday police footwork. Do you really want the identities of all informants exposed publicly? Do you really want the list of all current investigations and suspects exposed publicly? Do you really want the list of sex crime victims exposed publicly? Do you really want the list of protected witnesses exposed publicly?

Until there's human dishonesty and crime, there will be a need for honest people to keep secrets - and that includes honest, law abiding people working for governments.

Obviously the problem is dishonest people working for governments (and other organizations) keeping secrets to further their crimes. But you should not expect to be able to solve that particular problem by removing one of the main weapons of those who are hunting them ...

Re:No. (1)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 3 years ago | (#35627696)

Presumably the sex crime's victims' names are already made public knowledge in the course of bringing the sex criminal to trial?

While you've listed some unpleasant consequences of transparency in government, they pale next to the consequences of opaqueness in government.

Re:No. (1)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 3 years ago | (#35627794)

Do you really think that government transparency is the bottleneck in finding Bin Laden?

It's not the 8 years of fighting a war against the wrong country or our policy of kicking out skilled Arabic translators who happen to be gay while we have a shortage of same. It's not that our own government characterizes the war in the middle east as "culture war". It's not the low quality of our intel or the inadequacy of our soldier's equipment.

It's that damned "accountability in government" that keeps us from catching that long-time friend of the Bush family. If only we would let our lawmakers conduct their business in ski masks and conduct all their finances off the books we would've won this thing by now.

I realize that's hyperbole, but so is making everything about Bin Laden and Hitler.

If I'm working undercover as one of Hitler's henchmen then Godwin says it's time to bring the damn troops home.

on the basis that their government would offer them suitable protection, including keeping their identity secret while they were under cover.

I'm pretty sure that any government's "spy protection" policy is to say, "I don't know that guy. Do whatever you want with him- I hate spies."

That policy, which is a side-effect of secrecy, is just as unhealthy as transparency for the spies. Transparency does make it difficult for governments to use covert operatives to meddle in the affairs of other sovereign nations without the consent or knowledge of their constituents... cry me a river.

Re:No. (2)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620904)

A couple options I can think of...

1. Automatically give every American citizen a clearance, and if they're found by a court to have leaked info to non-citizens, they're guilty of treason.
2. Have classified information, but treat overclassification - that is, classifying information that would reveal wrongdoing or does not affect the US's military strategy if it were to leak - as treason, and give a reward to the leaker of that information.

Re:No. (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622320)

Automatically give every American citizen a clearance, and if they're found by a court to have leaked info to non-citizens, they're guilty of treason.

And since protests inevitably bring up the thing people are protesting against, taking part in one is treason. So is reporting about those protests, for the same reason. And of course the matter can't be discussed in a public forum like this one, newspapers, TV, etc.

You people keep on demonstrating over and over again that you have exactly the government you deserve.

Re:No. (1)

bhtooefr (649901) | more than 3 years ago | (#35688266)

Actually, no.

Under that idea:

Taking part in a protest that is visible to non-citizens would be treason, but only if it were protesting something classified, and not everything that's being protested would be classified.

Reporting on the protest in a venue that is visible to non-citizens would be treason.

Also, if a person could reasonably believe, as determined by a jury of their peers, that non-citizens didn't have access to the information, then they could be acquitted.

Sealing the borders would likely be required for this to work, however.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623300)

For all intensive purposes, "whom" is no longer a word. That begs the question, "who cares"?

First, the expression is "for all intents and purposes". Your version makes no sense in English. As well, 'whom' is a word. Illiterates should not lecture on grammar.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35620122)

National security can cover anything, you're delusional if you think we still live in a free society. If we did sexy sax man could perform in public places without being harassed!

Re:No. (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620588)

The only exceptions that I will accept as reasonable are a very narrow area regarding national security.

You shouldn't really accept that there except in a very limited sense: that it may take a decade (or perhaps a little more) for information about military operations to come out. That's enough time for the info to be of little use to the enemy, while still preserving the fundamental aspect of being able to discover what happened within the lifetime of (most) people who were around when it happened and to hold those who made bad decisions to account.

Re:No. (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#35623810)

That's why I said narrow definition. Meaning, it does not include trade negotiations, but obviously includes the locations of our troops on the ground, where are missiles are, ongoing operations.

The fact that the information would then become public after a suitable period of time was something that I did not think needed to be said. I also don't think it needs to be 75 years either. 15 years at most, or the life-time of the war. Although, heavens help us if we are in a protracted state of war for longer than 15 years.

Re:No. (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 3 years ago | (#35624394)

The only exceptions that I will accept as reasonable are a very narrow area regarding national security.

The only way to make that work is if there is a penalty for classifying something without justification. As it stands now, anything can be classified for any reason with no repercussions.

Re:No. (1)

drb226 (1938360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618980)

While it's easy to paint the situation that way, the reality is a lot more complicated than "they miscalculated what they could get away with." Despite popular belief, there are benefits, as well as costs, to unrestricted information. While "we the people" see the costs as far outweighing the benefits, we're also not the ones that have to make decisions that will inevitably be criticized left and right no matter what they are. (Also despite popular belief, no one is capable of being the perfect politician.) We all see through biased eyes.

Re:No. (1)

DaSwing (902297) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619276)

While "we the people" see the costs as far outweighing the benefits, we're also not the ones that have to make decisions that will inevitably be criticized left and right no matter what they are. (Also despite popular belief, no one is capable of being the perfect politician.) We all see through biased eyes.

If by "biased", you mean "pro-democratic" and "pro-freedom", then, yes.

Re:No. (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620198)

I don't think anyone is claiming that he accidentally passed bill (or even that such an action would be possible). However, from that fact, it is a leap of logic to conclude that he knew of the consequences and was trying to get away with causing those consequences to happen. It is also a possibility that he tried deliberately to pass a law for which he didn't fully consider the consequences. The latter still falls under the heading of "messing up" in my books, and is what the senator is claiming. There is no evidence to support the former proposition.

Re:No. (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620666)

You didn't "mess up", except in the very limited and weasely sense that you 'miscalculated the level of bullshit that you could get away with'.

Very nicely put. It reminded me of an incident I witnessed at a computer 'swap meet' (which is just a way for backyard vendors to flog off imports without paying taxes). A guy casually walked past a booth, picked up a video card and slipped it under his jacket. The vendor saw and yelled at him. The guy took the card out from under his jacket, put it back where he grabbed it from, and made some sort of gesture to indicate "Sorry, it's fine, I'll put it back. Everything is fine", then casually walked away.

It would be nice if politicians could lose their seat for trying to slip something like that past the people...

FOI request. (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618602)

I've never really understood Freedom Of Information Act requests. If I'm allowed to request the information, then why isn't it just... available? Why the need for a request?

Re:FOI request. (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618618)

Because there's a huge mountain of materials that could be requested and much of it has to be reviewed before it's released. Some materials can be provided via a FOIA request but have to be redacted in order to be released.

Re:FOI request. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618674)

Yeah, well, then it isn't really a freedom of information act, is it?
It's more like a "Give me whatever information you think I should be able to get" act which basically translates to "Don't give me any information I want that could make you look bad act".

Re:FOI request. (1)

TheABomb (180342) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618986)

Perhaps for records from the 1950s that's true, but there's no excuse for creating any government doc in the last (at least) 20 years non-digitally, and storing them on a public server.

Re:FOI request. (2)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619820)

Even then, presuming that the documents were created and used electronically for their entire lifetime (still not a given even today), there sometimes is either "classified" references or perhaps personal and/or private information such as SSNs and other personally identifiable information that normally ought to be removed.

If you applied for food stamps (a government document by the standard proposed here), should that information be available for anybody to read and use how they see fit? What about passport applications? Military pay vouchers?

There certainly are government documents that can and should be kept private or perhaps even documents that might need to be made public but contain private information that needs to be removed before publication.

I should note that even Wikileaks goes through the documents it has to remove this kind of private information, and I consider that a good thing. Going through documents to remove this kind of information is labor intensive and takes time to accomplish, even if the document was made electronically. With a document being only available on paper makes this all that harder to accomplish.

Re:FOI request. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35619956)

I wish I could mod up both this and its parent. Good question, good answer.

Re:FOI request. (1)

I(rispee_I(reme (310391) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620550)

If you applied for food stamps (a government document by the standard proposed here), should that information be available for anybody to read and use how they see fit? What about passport applications? Military pay vouchers?

Let's turn this around:

If my tax dollars are being taken at gunpoint (as they are, ultimately) and used to feed hungry people, do I have a right to verify that they are, in fact, being used to feed hungry people?

What if my tax dollars are being used to process passport applications or hire mercenaries? Should I take the word of the ruling class that my tax dollars are being well spent?

Re:FOI request. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35621488)

I would have to agree with donut guy on this one.

I can't think of a single piece of common, personally identifiable information that isn't already publicly available or easily obtainable in the US. You just have to know how to look and anyone interested already has methods in place. That doesn't mean that the information is anyone else's business and there should of course be laws in place to prevent abuse, but attempting to censor information that is already readily available can only lead to abuse.

(Of course, temporary secrecy to save lives or ensure military success is another matter entirely.)

Re:FOI request. (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620910)

But this is kind of my point. If material is, say, classified, then someone has already sat down, looked at it, said "OMG, this is thuper thecret!" and stamped it classified. You've already paid someone to do that. Why didn't you pay them to mark the parts that are secret, so that the rest of the document is publicly available. (Properly designed, the document could be marked up for various levels of release, over time. I'm thinking commercial-in-confidence material on government contracts.)

Even with older paper documents, a one-off Google-books style mass-transfer would be cheaper in the long run than, a) disorganised on-demand piecemeal reviews and b) the loss of efficiency in not having that material widely available within government (and business.) (Seriously, how much work is duplicated, how much lost, by simply not having documents available within agencies, between agencies, between levels of government, by business?)

Material like your private records tend to be of a class, you don't need to review each document, so access can be routine even though restricted. (And some agencies do. It is getting better. But it's so ad hoc.)

Wiki: "The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) [...] was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 4, 1966"

It's not like it's a new concept. Surely after 45 years we shouldn't be seeing FOI laws setting out costs and limits as if someone has to manually review every document requested. If I can get it, it should already be available.

Conspiracy theorists will, like metalmaster below, will say that FOIA helps governments hide material. But experienced FOIA users apparently make multiple requests for the same document, because the convoluted rules mean that the same document must be separately reviewed for each request, and different reviewers will often redact different portions, so by comparing different versions you end up with more than any single reviewer would have granted. Good for freedom, but surely a secret-keeping government would prefer a single redacted version made at the time the document was first created?

Re:FOI request. (3, Informative)

fonos (847221) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618632)

It would cost a lot of money to publish every single document that could be requested. Plus, certain documents contain sensitive/personal information, so they may omit certain parts of the document depending on who requests it. You can request the information US Customs has on you. Entries, exits, etc.

Re:FOI request. (3, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619352)

It would cost a lot less if, instead of publishing the documents, they stored them in some kind of machine-readable form, and used automatons to fetch, copy, and deliver responses to requests made using a standardized set of machine instructions....

Re:FOI request. (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619540)

It would cost a lot less if, instead of publishing the documents, they stored them in some kind of machine-readable form, and used automatons to fetch, copy, and deliver responses to requests made using a standardized set of machine instructions....

LOL...you really do have a bit too much faith in the abilities of the fed and state governments. It takes years, research, committees and miles of red tape just to approve the official design of the cheese sandwich in the cafeteria downstairs.....multiply that by 20x or more and you'll start the ball rolling on the system you described.

And that's not taking into account any malice they might have towards creating such a system to more easily make their work and actions more transparent.

Re:FOI request. (1)

metalmaster (1005171) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618648)

My guess is to create a paper trail.

If info was just open anyone could access anything at anytime. At least this way they know whose accessing what and when. Just because information is open doesnt mean it isnt sensitive. knowing who views what can have its advantages.

Re:FOI request. (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619976)

In some cases it depends on the infromation. Personal information about you, for example, might be freely available to you but not to just anyone -- so you need to request it (with some proof of who you are). There's certainly plenty of information that is freely available (the number of web sites on the .gov TLD is boggling).

Details, please (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618620)

RTFA, and would like more info. TFA doesn't provide much details.

Re:Details, please (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619844)

If you don't mind reading original sources of information and doing some data mining, as well as listening to hours of legislative debate, you can always go to this site:

http://le.utah.gov/~2011S1/2011S1.htm [utah.gov]

That gives you at least the public face of information you may be wanting to learn about.

In terms of "the opposition", you can also go to this website:

http://savegrama.org/ [savegrama.org]

I'm not a huge fan of how this site has been administered, but it at least provides a counterpoint as to what has been happening. Does that give you the details you are craving?

Re:Details, please (1)

Reziac (43301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620486)

Also interesting, Sen. Steve Urquhart's blog:

http://www.steveu.com/blog/ [steveu.com]

Re:Details, please (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 3 years ago | (#35622666)

"Craving" is such a strong word, you know?

But thanks for the links. Yours and the sibling post shows some inkling of the issues involved. As usual, the slashdot story was one-sided flamebait.

I'm glad they manned up that they messed up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618702)

Sen. Steve Urquhart is a pretty decent guy, I should know I live next to him.

Repealing the bill ain't enuf, People of Utah (5, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618792)

Fine, so "they messed up" and the bill was repealed. Is that enough to really fix the problem? Was the problem the bill itself? No. The problem is the intent and mindset of the people who drafted, promoted, and passed the bill. Such mindsets never change, even if they admit publicly "we screwed up"; they don't actually believe they did screw up... they just got caught trying to screw you over. It's the people behind the bill that need to be repealed as well. Does repealing the bill also make them go away for good? No.

People of Utah, your work isn't done.

Re:Repealing the bill ain't enuf, People of Utah (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618916)

People of Utah, your work isn't done.

That's right. They need to remove Hatch from Washington if they can't control him.

Re:Repealing the bill ain't enuf, People of Utah (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619862)

People of Utah, your work isn't done.

That's right. They need to remove Hatch from Washington if they can't control him.

We are working on that. My problem is that I don't like the potential successors to Orrin Hatch, and Mike Lee is likely to be a bigger thorn in the side than Hatch ever was. The real problem is finding somebody who can step up and do the job to replace Hatch. That isn't as easy as it should be.

Re:Repealing the bill ain't enuf, People of Utah (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620200)

Find somebody you like, and make him an offer he can't refuse. Tell him that either his name or his brains will be on the ballot.

Re:Repealing the bill ain't enuf, People of Utah (1)

jensend (71114) | more than 3 years ago | (#35620278)

Bah. Hatch is the least of our worries.

I'm not very happy with the job Hatch has done in recent years, and he clearly has some messed-up ideas regarding IP law, but for most of his career in the Senate he did a rather good job of representing the state, and he's been a voice of moderation on some key issues where many of the republican politicians here are off the charts of extremism. (The state republican party's caucus/convention system has been an effective way of filtering sanity out of the candidate pool in recent years.)

Mike Lee is much more of a worry (though with his tea party rhetoric he's done a lot more angrily waving around copies of the Constitution than telling anybody what he actually proposes to do about things, so for all we know the positions he ends up taking may not be as wacky as one might have guessed from his campaign). Unfortunately, in the current political climate, if Hatch is voted out of office he'll likely be replaced by someone more extreme than Lee has any chance of being.

Re:Repealing the bill ain't enuf, People of Utah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35619680)

You need to put it in a car analogy. It's like you caught a guy trying to steal your car, said, "Don't do that." then hand him the keys and walk away.

I live in UT. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35622430)

I am frankly quite surprised that there was even an attempt to repeal this law. There is a large crypto-conservative contingent among the electorate -- hence the mindset of the politicians that passed this law (in the way that they passed it). These people inherently trust authoritarianism, as long as "their guy" is in charge.

There was plenty of ruckus raised by liberals, but they are in no position to dictate anything to anyone in this state.

Perhaps the anti-government Tea Party types really are good for something after all?

Good riddance, for now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35618800)

Until we meet again.

One down. Who's Next? There's plenty of candidates (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 3 years ago | (#35618820)

2011 SPJ Black Hole Award [spj.org]

Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services: Hiding Child Deaths
University of Maryland: Pricing People out of their Government
Central Intelligence Agency and A.G. Eric Holder: Flagrant Destruction of Embarrassing Records
Fairfax County Police Department: Hiding the Killers of Unarmed Citizens
Broward County, Fla., School Board: Inaccurate Records

Now THAT'S funny! (5, Insightful)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 3 years ago | (#35619196)

A politician complaining about the media "lobbying" the public. I can't imagine a better definition of irony!

Re:Now THAT'S funny! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35623062)

"Senate President Michael Waddoups accused the media of lobbying"

Gotta remember, tho, this is about Utah where the media is mostly owned outright or de facto run at the pleasure of the mormon church. Waddoups must not have consulted his bishop prior to "messing up" if he suffered criticism in the media.

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