Editorial: Defend Your Right to Know

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July 5, 2017 4:11 PM
Fifty years ago today, Washington witnessed a revolution. The Freedom of Information Act went into effect, establishing Americans' right to know.
FOIA was a breathtaking accomplishment, the end result of a 12-year effort by John Moss, a Democratic congressman from California. The bill established that any citizen -- anyone, not just officeholders or journalists or well-connected insiders -- could ask the government for information, and the government had to respond. Every citizen had a right to know what the government was up to.
The act was part of a massive power reversal in the flow of information between citizen and state. In the 1960s and 1970s, the right to know grew alongside the right to privacy, twin efforts to enlarge government transparency and personal privacy. They were a response to a government that jealously guarded its own secrets while rifling through the personal lives of millions of Americans (a state of affairs that should sound familiar to anyone who's followed the last 15 years of American politics). Continue...