New FOIA Guidelines Issued In Memorandum By U.S. Attorney General Holder

In his memorandum of March 19, 2009 to heads of executive departments and agencies, Attorney General Holder rescinds former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s October 12, 2001 memorandum which states that records could be witheld by the Department of Justice “unless they lack a sound legal basis or present an unwarranted risk of adverse impact on the ability of other agencies to protect other important records” Topics included in the Attorney General Holder memorandum include: A presumption of openess; FOIA is the Responsibility of Everyone, and the importance of agencies working productively and properly.

To quote from a statement on the U.S. Department of Justice website:

“By restoring the presumption of disclosure that is at the heart of the Freedom of Information Act, we are making a critical change that will restore the public’s ability to access information in a timely manner,” said Attorney General Holder. ‘The American people have the right to information about their government’s activities, and these new guidelines will ensure they are able to obtain that information under principles of openness and transparency.’ “

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