At the 16th Annual National Freedom of Information Day at the Newseum’s Knight Conference Center, former White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Administrator Cass Sunstein accepted the prestigious James Madison Award on behalf of the five-member President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies which recommended the end of bulk telephone metadata collection.
Then, Sunstein used his acceptance speech for the James Madison Award –which recognized those who “championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know”– to invoke the memories of Madison and Thomas Jefferson to argue to a roomful of openness activists that they should support continued government secrecy.
Citing the debate during closed sessions of the Constitutional Convention more than 225 years ago,1 Sunstein appealed for the continued need to protect the “deliberative process.” Government agencies are increasingly citing this same ”deliberative process” to trigger a Freedom of Information Act exemption –b(5)– that allows them to withhold any “interagency or intra-agency communication,” as well as any agency-claimed “draft,” from the public. This incredibly large cutout is often called the “withhold it because you want to” exemption. Continue>>>