FOIA clears WH foyer forya


President Bush kicked off the new year, in part, by signing into law bipartisan legislation strengthening tghe Freedom of Information Act. Thr thrust of the bill is to help citizens and journalists take advantage of their rights under the existing law in the face of a stonewalling government entity without being forced into costly and time-consuming litigation. The Society of Professional Journalists explained, "It creates an independent ombudsman to resolve citizen disputes, helps agencies strengthen FOIA, creates a system for the public to easily track the status of requests and allows requesters to more effectively recover legal costs incurred when agencies improperly deny requests." SPJ President Clint Brewer said, "Unfettered access to the records of government is a cornerstone for a free press, as well as a sound, civil society. The American people have a right to know about the actions of their government, and those actions are most often told through the public record."