May 28th, 2008
Press releases could become “Controlled unclassified info”
By David Cuillier
Steven Aftergood, who writes the Secrecy News blog, posted news today of the Bush administration’s proposal to temporarily mark press releases as “controlled unclassified information” to prevent them from being released prematurely. This could be applied to press releases sent out with embargo times or dates. The press release then would be given all sorts of protections from disclosure. It could still be released early, the administration says, but only if a person files a Freedom of Information Act request to get it, which can take weeks or years to get results. Yet another example of how secrecy is out of control when the government starts making secret what it wants to make public. As with a lot of silly federal policies, I could see this trickling down to state and local governments. It already has: In the past few years in Phoenix, Ariz., the sheriff required a few newspapers he didn’t like to submit public records requests for press releases. All the more reason to ignore press releases and do our own reporting!