How to Strengthen Transparency in the U.S. Open Government Plan

Yesterday, OMB Watch submitted its recommendations for the Obama administration's national plan for the Open Government Partnership (OGP). The administration will unveil its plan, with new concrete commitments to increase transparency, at the international OGP meeting on Sept. 20.

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Secret Watchlists: Don’t Ask, Because Uncle Sam Won’t Tell

Department of Homeland Security seal

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is operating a massive new database of personal information. But if you want to know if you're in the database, you'll be out of luck. A proposed rule by DHS would keep the database secret by exempting it from nearly every provision of the Privacy Act.

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Chemical Bill Keeps Americans in Harm’s Way, Weakens National Security

On June 22, the House Homeland Security Committee approved H.R. 901, the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Security Authorization Act of 2011, which would extend the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) for another seven years.

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Obama Administration Reaches Plea Deal with NSA Whistleblower

National Security Agency sealThe Obama administration agreed to drop its controversial Espionage Act case against former National Security Agency (NSA) employee Thomas Drake, according to reports yesterday. Instead, Drake will plead guilty to exceeding authorized use of a computer, a misdemeanor. The deal calls for no jail time or fine, with up to one year of probation.

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Congress Extends Patriot Act, No New Oversight

Congress voted yesterday to extend three expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act until June 2015 without adopting any new oversight or transparency provisions. President Obama has signed the bill.

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Spying Without Oversight is a Compromise?

Congressional leaders have agreed to extend key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act until June 2015, according to reports today. The extension will not include reforms.

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House Panel Advances Patriot Act Extension, Without Reforms

The House Judiciary Committee yesterday voted to reauthorize key provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act. The committee also rejected several proposals to reform the controversial provisions of the intelligence law.

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Administration Replacing Derided Terror Alert System

As transparency advocates, we often advocate for government to make more information available to the public. However, sometimes the problem comes when government does make information available – and the information is wrong, confusing, misleading, or manipulative.

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Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Still AWOL

Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) last week urged President Obama to revive the dormant Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board by nominating members to fill the board's vacancies.

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White House Makes Boneheaded Move in not Proactively Disclosing Transparency Meeting

Two days ago, I posted a message about my meeting with President Obama to acknowledge his commitment to transparency and to give him an award for that commitment. During that meeting, the president reaffirmed his belief in transparency and demonstrated a nuanced understanding of the issues involved. I left the meeting assured I had an advocate for transparency running the government, even as we talked about ways of strengthening transparency. Yesterday, I learned that the meeting was not listed on his public calendar. There is no good excuse for this.

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