Sunshine Week 2012 Discussion: Secrecy, disclosure and the risks for security and accountability


All too often government openness and national security are thought of as opposing national interests and values. In reality, though, openness and security are not always in contention.

Join us in person at the Knight Conference Center in the Newseum or via webcast on Friday, March 16 from 1:15 to 3:30 EDT as our panel of experts, including Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Top Secret America, Dana Priest, discuss the practice and policy keeping and telling secrets in America.

Friday, March 16, 2012, 1:15 – 3:30 (EDT)


Transparency experts from inside and outside government will discuss: the role of and risks to whistleblowers and the press in holding government accountable: and the intersections among secrecy, real national security, and openness. Panelists will take questions from the live and viewing audiences.

1:15p.m. – Welcome: Patrice McDermott, Executive Director
A discussion of secrecy, disclosure and the risks for security and accountability

1:20 pm – Whistleblowers & the Press: Roles and Risks in Divulging Information Needed for Accountable Government


  • Gary J. Aguirre, former investigator with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and whistleblower; currently represents other SEC whistleblowers
  • Tom Bowman, National Public Radio (NPR) National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon
  • Mark Cohen, Deputy Counsel,Office of Special Counsel, and former Executive Director of the Government Accountability Project (GAP)
  • Lucy Dalglish, Executive Director, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press(RCFP); RCFP provides free legal advice, resources, support and advocacy to protect the First Amendment and Freedom of Information rights of journalists
  • Moderator: Abbe Lowell, Partner at Chadbourne & Parke LLC; Mr. Lowell has defended several high profile defendants charged with violating the Espionage Act by trafficking in government secrets

2:30 pm – Secret Government and Secret Laws: Do claims of national security trump open and accountable government?


  • Alex Abdo, Staff Attorney in the ACLU's National Security Project; Mr. Abdo is in charge of the ACLU's FOIA cases concerning torture, warrantless wiretapping, national security letters, section 215 of the Patriot Act, and the FISA Amendments Act
  • Liza Goitein, Co-Director of the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty and National Security Program, which seeks to advance effective national security policies that respect constitutional values and the rule of law
  • J. William Leonard, former Director of the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO)
  • Dana Priest, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at the Washington Post and author of Top Secret America
  • Jeffrey H. Smith, former General Counsel of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)and current Partner at Arnold & Porter; Mr. Smith represents major media associations on "leaks" of classified information
  • Moderator: Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight (POGO); POGO is a nonpartisan independent watchdog that champions good government reforms

The event will be held and broadcast live from the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum as part of the Freedom Forum's National Freedom of Information Day Celebration.


The event will be held in the Knight Conference Center at the Newseum (555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington DC).

There is no charge to attend, but attendees are encouraged to guarantee seating in advance. To register for the 2012 conference, please contact Ashlie Hampton at, or 202-292-6288. When registering, please provide your name, title, affiliation and contact information for agenda updates and other news.


The event will be held on Friday, March 16, 2012 – 1:15- 3:30pm (EDT), in coordination with the Freedom Forum's National FOI Day conference.


The first national "Sunshine Week: Your Right to Know" was launched in March 2005 and is celebrated in 2012 from March 11-17. Sunshine Week's intent is to raise awareness of the importance of open government to everyone in the community, not just journalists.


Sunshine Week 2012 National Dialogue is brought to you in celebration of Sunshine Week by the American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Research LibrariesLeague of Women Voters, National Freedom of Information Coalition, OMB Watch,, Project On Government Oversight, Sunshine Week, Special Libraries Association, and the Sunlight Foundation.