Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Obama Administration Denying FOIA Request Violates Free Speech

See New Advisory : FOIA Appeal Update Regarding the DOJ's ''vindictive prosecution'' of Lt. Daniel Choi (7 Dec 2013)

Free Speech Implications of DOJ Denying FOIA Request on Lt. Daniel Choi

As of today, I've not yet received any written response from the Department of Justice to the request filed under the Freedom of Information Act. The request, dated April 30, 2013, requested information pertaining to the government's vindictive prosecution of "Don't Act, Don't Tell" repeal hero, Lt. Daniel Choi.

Speech critical of the government, for example, political speech, is a freedom provided as a protection in the First Amendment. The First Amendment also includes a right to peacefully assemble and a right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. These rights are protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights. These are guarantees made to us by the U.S. government.

The very idea of a republic implies rights conveyed to citizens to meet and consult one another, and to petition their government, if they so choose. How can citizens exercise their rights to free speech, to assemble, and to petition, when the government restricts, delays, or prevents the sharing of information necessary for our citizen activities ? Our guarantees to free speech are being diminished, shortened, and constricted by conditions created by denying Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Separate from any rights under freedom of the press, afforded to me as a blogger, there originates my right to free speech as a citizen. How can one review, consult, and comment on the functions and actions of one's own government, if one is denied information ?

Refusing to honor FOIA requests prevents us from forming complete thoughts and speech, in this case, speech that may be critical of the government. Denying FOIA requests denies citizens their rights to freely and completely speak, to fully consult with other citizens, to peacefully and meaningfully assemble, and to petition the government, if necessary, for a redress of grievances. Thwarting information violates our rights, protections, and guarantees, in accordance with the design of our republic. This is what is at stake when the government refuses to honor requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The implications of restricting information to the detriment of our right to free speech, are not limited to me or to the readers of this blog, but to every citizen.

No comments:

Post a Comment