Posts Tagged ‘Government Accountability Project’


FOI DAILY DOSE: Whistleblower Thomas Drake sentence includes no jail time, British Columbia launches open gov website

NSA whistleblower goes free

After the prosecution of National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake collapsed from felony-level charges to a plea bargain for a misdemeanor, Drake was sentenced to one year probation and 240 hours of community service July 15.

Judge Richard D. Bennett criticized the Justice Department for dragging out its investigation of Drake for years before dropping the bulk of the charges just days before the trial was to begin.

For a detailed account of Drake’s sentencing, check out this New York Times article.

The Government Accountability Project has also published a transcript of Drake’s statement to the press following his sentencing.

 

British Columbia first provincial gov to start open-data site

The government of British Columbia made almost 2,500 datasets publicly available Tuesday when it launched its open-data website.

Although much of the information was already previously available, the website makes it easier to access, according to a Vancouver Sun article.

British Columbia has also adopted an open-data license that will allow programmers to use government information without fear of being sued.

The province will also start posting FOI-requested data online here after the requester has had a minimum of four days to review the information beforehand – a caveat that will let reporters cover stories before others can gain access to the data.

For more information on this open government initiative, see this article from the Globe and Mail.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email (mwatkins@spj.org) or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26)

FOI DAILY DOSE: Sticking up for Drake, Nigeria FOI law to keep industry transparent

Public, WaPo stick up for whistleblower Thomas Drake

National Security Administration whistleblower Thomas Drake goes to court next week, but he isn’t without public support for his actions.

Drake is facing charges of violating the Espionage Act of 1917. According to prosecutors, he willfully retained classified documents that he had promised to protect.

Drake provided unclassified but important information to a Baltimore Sun reporter about wasteful spending and other problems in the NSA, which led to his indictment. He faces up to 35 years in prison.

The Washington Post published an editorial Sunday that echoed the concerns of various whistleblower supporters. The central question in the Drake case, at least for the WaPo editorial board, is whether the court case is an overkill response to Drake’s actions.

The Government Accountability Project (GAP) showed support for Drake on June 3, presenting a petition to Attorney General Eric Holder and the House of Representatives and Senate Judiciary Committees urging the Department of Justice to drop the case against Drake.

The petition has more than 4,600 signatures according to its Web page on Change.org.

Nigeria FOI law to strengthen transparency of extractive industry

The country’s new FOI law, recently signed by President Goodluck Jonathan, should boost transparency in the extractive industry.

The operations of the industry’s revenue collection agencies and oil companies can be very secretive, but there is a push toward open access that the new law can strengthen.

The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) aims to improve openness among industry companies, especially with respect to their revenue disclosures. Its Executive Secretary, Zainab Ahmed, said the FOI act complemented the NEITI Act of 2007 that created the initiative.

With the implementation of the FOI law, as well as NEITI, Nigeria is moving forward with its goal of improving transparency throughout the nation – both in the government and in the economic sector as well.

– Morgan Watkins

Morgan Watkins is SPJ’s summer Pulliam/Kilgore Freedom of Information intern and a University of Florida student. Reach her by email (mwatkins@spj.org) or connect with her on Twitter (@morganwatkins26).

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