Citizens should have a right to information

Staff Editorial

Northern Star

(Northern Illinois U.)

(U-WIRE) DEKALB, Ill. – The Freedom of Information Act is something thatmedia rely upon to bring readers the most accurate information possible.

Without access to information, the media would be nothing. No one should be denied access to information that should be public record.

In October 2001, The Associated Press reported that Attorney General John Ashcroft changed the policy that was in place.

He asked government agencies to consider national security more carefully before granting access to public records. Thirty-one percent of those agencies have said they complied with Ashcroft’s request.

Thirty-one percent of agencies surveyed reported they have seen a decrease of information, the AP stated.

If that’s true, some agencies are not giving full access to public records.

Without access to information, the public would be kept in the dark.

Ashcroft’s move came about a month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, when our nation was much more concerned about national security than it had been before.

But weren’t we told to continue our lives as they were before the attacks?

So, why should agencies be keeping any information out of the hands of media, or the public in general?

We understand some things cannot be told; in fact, there are records that are exempt from FOIA.

But when it comes to government agencies, there should be little kept from the people.

According to the Student Press Law Center, “in America, the government belongs to the people.

Freedom of information law is simply one means by which citizens, the owners, have given themselves the ability to keep tabs on what it is their government and governmental officials are doing.”

No one should be kept from public information – that’s the beauty of the FOIA.