Collaboration on Government Secrecy
American University Washington College of Law

September 28, 2009

Speaker Bios


Tom Blanton is Director of the National Security Archive, which is located at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The Archive won U.S. journalism's George Polk Award in April 2000 for "piercing self-serving veils of government secrecy, guiding journalists in search for the truth, and informing us all." The Los Angeles Times (January 16, 2001) described the Archive as "the world's largest nongovernmental library of declassified documents." Tom served as the Archive's first Director of Planning & Research beginning in 1986, becoming Deputy Director in 1989 and Executive Director in 1992. He filed his first Freedom of Information Act request in 1976 as a weekly newspaper reporter in Minnesota; among many hundreds subsequently, he filed the FOIA request and subsequent lawsuit (with Public Citizen Litigation Group) that forced the release of Oliver North's Iran-Contra diaries in 1990.

Tom's books include White House E-Mail: The Top Secret Computer Messages the Reagan-Bush White House Tried to Destroy (New York: The New Press, 1995, 254 pp. + computer disk), which The New York Times described as "a stream of insights into past American policy, spiced with depictions of White House officials in poses they would never adopt for a formal portrait." He co-authored The Chronology (New York: Warner Books, 1987, 687 pp.) on the Iran-Contra affair, and he served as a contributing author to three editions of the ACLU's authoritative guide, Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws and to the Brookings Institution study Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940 (Washington, D.C.: Brookings, 1998, 680 pp.). His articles have appeared in The International Herald-Tribune, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Slate, the Wilson Quarterly, and many other publications.

A graduate of Harvard University, where he was an editor of the independent university daily newspaper The Harvard Crimson, Tom won Harvard's 1979 Newcomen Prize in history. He also received the 1996 American Library Association James Madison Award Citation for "defending the public's right to know" and more recently won the 2005 Emmy Award for outstanding individual achievement in news and documentary research on the documentary "Declassified: Nixon in China," produced by ABC News Productions for the Discovery Times Channel. Additionally, he is a founding editorial board member of, the virtual network of international freedom of information advocates; serves on the editorial board of H-DIPLO, the diplomatic history electronic bulletin board; and is co-chair of the steering committee of the public interest coalition, among other professional activities.


Kevin Dunion, OBE, MA, MSc, FRSA, the Scottish Information Commissioner, is a public official appointed by Her Majesty The Queen on the nomination of the Scottish Parliament. He is responsible for enforcing and promoting Scotland's freedom of information laws and employs a staff of 23 in fulfilling this responsibility. He was appointed as the first Scottish Information Commissioner in February 2003, for a term of five years, before Scotland's Freedom of Information Act (2002) came fully into force on January 1, 2005. In February 2008, he was reappointed for a second and final term, which runs for four years until 2012. In the four years since Scotland's FOIA took effect (in conjunction with the U.K.'s FOIA, with which it partly overlaps), Kevin has taken more than 700 formal decisions in respect of appeals. Some of these decisions have been especially high-profile ones, such as requiring the disclosure of Scottish Parliament Members' expense claims, the publication of surgeons' mortality rates (the first such comprehensive disclosure anywhere in the world), and the release of an entire PFI contract for the building and maintenance of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Kevin also champions the spirit and principle of freedom of information, and he is frequently asked to speak to and write about the Scottish experience with freedom of information. As well as addressing Scottish audiences, he is keen to engage with international developments and over the past few years he has hosted a visit by the Chief Commissioner for India, worked with the British Council, advised on the Malawi Access to Information Bill, and contributed as an international consultant to The Carter Center's program on access to information in Jamaica. He addressed the 5th International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) in New Zealand in November 2007 and the 2nd International Access to Information and Protection of Personal Data Conference in Mexico City in November 2008. He also spoke at the "FOI Live" transparency conference held in London in June 2009.

Kevin was educated at the University of St. Andrews (MA (Hons) Modern History 1978) and at the University of Edinburgh (MSc (Dist) African Studies 1991). Before becoming the Scottish Information Commissioner, he was for many years a prominent campaigner for freedom of information. With funding from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, he established two research projects that examined the performance of public bodies in Scotland with regard to providing access to information, employed Scotland's only full- time Freedom of Information campaigner, and gave evidence to the Justice Committee scrutinizing the passage of the Bill through the Scottish Parliament. Following stints in the civil service and university administration, Kevin joined Oxfam as Campaigns Manager and then took up the post of Chief Executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland. From 1996 to 2000, he also very notably served as Chairman of Friends of the Earth International, heading delegations to the United Nations and the European Commission. It was for this role that he was awarded an OBE in 2000.

Kevin also serves as Co-Director of the Centre for Freedom of Information of Dundee Law School, an academic center established at the University of Dundee in 2009 that, after the Collaboration on Government Secrecy, is now the second such center at any law school in the world (


Arne Fliflet has been the Parliamentary Ombudsman of Norway for nearly two decades, a tenure longer than that of any other current information commissioner worldwide. First appointed by the Storting to this position in 1990, he subsequently has been re-appointed four times. In Norway, the Parliamentary Ombudsman supervises public administration agencies, which is carried out on the basis of complaints from citizens concerning any maladministration or injustice on the part of an agency, including the denial of access to government information. The Parliamentary Ombudsman processes complaints that apply to national government, municipal, or county administrations and also may address issues on his own initiative.

Arne was born in 1946 and received his law degree in 1971. He was a university lecturer in jurisprudence at Oslo University in 1973 and has subsequently lectured on public law at the Universities of Oslo, Bergen, and Tromsø, as well as acting as an examiner in this field. From 1974 to 1975, he was Assistant Judge in Førde in Sunnfjord, and then from 1975 to 1990 he practiced law, both in public administration and in a private practice. From 1976 to 1986, he worked at the office of the Attorney General, interrupted by a study period in London in 1979 and a period as Public Prosecutor at the Eidsivating Public Prosecutor's office during 1980-81. He was granted "right of audience" (advocacy rights) in the Supreme Court in 1978 and was permanent counsel for the defense in Eidsivating Court of Appeal from 1989 to 1990. Over the years, he also has published specialist literature on public law, both in book form as well as articles. In 2009, he led the international transparency community by serving as host of the 6th International Conference of Information Commissioners (ICIC) in Oslo.


Kevin Goldberg is a Special Counsel to Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C. His expertise is in First Amendment issues, especially those relating to newspaper and Internet publishing. He regularly advocates issues involving freedom of speech on behalf of press organizations, including lobbying against a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow criminalization of flag desecration, lobbying in favor of increased access to government records and proceedings, and protecting the rights and privileges of reporters. Kevin also consults regularly with these organizations concerning the continued freedom of speech on the Internet, focusing on issues such as regulation and voluntary implementation of blocking software. He assists newspapers and television and radio stations in prepublication review of stories for possible legal problems.

Kevin's interest in the First Amendment stems from an undergraduate major in communications, with concentrations in TV/Radio and Journalism, at James Madison University, from which he graduated Magna Cum Laude in 1992. After graduating from James Madison, he attended law school at George Washington University, where he graduated with high honors in 1995 and was named to the Order of the Coif. Kevin received the 1995 Imogene Williford Constitutional Law Award for his exemplary achievements in that academic area during his three years of law school. He served as the research assistant to Constitutional Law Professor C. Thomas Dienes, assisting him in updating and editing his books on constitutional law and researching issues concerning access to court proceedings and judicial records for the book Newsgathering and the Law.

Kevin is licensed to practice in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. In addition to his law practice, he is an adjunct professor at George Mason University, where he teaches Journalism Law. He is a member of Board of Directors of the District of Columbia's Public Access Television Corporation and the First Amendment Advisory Council of the nonprofit organization The Media Institute, as well as the Federal Communications Bar Association, and the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. He has also written several articles on First Amendment Law. He co-wrote, with Richard M. Schmidt, Jr., chapters dealing with libel law in the 1997, 1998, and 1999 versions of The First Amendment and The Media, a publication of The Media Institute. Kevin and Dick Schmidt also co-wrote an article entitled "The Reardon Report" for the Winter 1998 edition of the Media Studies Journal and an article for the Winter 1999 edition of Communications Lawyer about their experiences in Cuba, entitled "Castro -- Alive and Well -- Continues 40 Years of Controlling Cubans' Speech."


Jamie Horsley is Deputy Director of the China Law Center, and also holds the dual positions of Senior Research Scholar and Lecturer in Law, at Yale Law School. Her academic subjects are the law of China and Chinese legal reform, and her project work revolves primary around issues of administrative law and regulatory reform, including promoting government transparency, public participation, improved dispute resolution, and government accountability. Prior to joining Yale, she was a partner in the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Commercial Attaché in the U.S. Embassies in Beijing and Manila; Vice President of Motorola International, Inc. and Director of Government Relations for China for Motorola, Inc.; and a consultant to The Carter Center on village elections in China. She is the author, most recently, of "Public Participation in the People's Republic: Developing a More Participatory Governance Model in China," "China Adopts First Nationwide Open Government Information Regulations," and "China's Quest for Rule of Law Under One-Party Rule," and she is the premier U.S. expert on the relatively recent emergence of transparency in that nation. She has a B.A. from Stanford, an M.A. (Chinese Studies) from the University of Michigan, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and a Diploma in Chinese Law from the University of East Asia.


Toby McIntosh, a former White House correspondent for the Bureau of National Affairs, was the long-time managing editor of BNA's flagship Daily Report for Executives and now is its Director of Editorial Quality. As a reporter, he covered antitrust, consumer protection, the Office of Management and Budget, information policy, the relationship between emerging technologies and government, Senate holds, and regulatory reform. He covered the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations as a member of the White House Press Corps, then spent 15 years at the helm of Daily Report for Executives, also editing four other publications during those years. He received the Joseph Brechner Freedom of Information Award in 1990 for groundbreaking articles on the then-enormous roadblocks to obtaining access to electronic records, is the recipient of 1992 awards from the National Press Association and the Newsletter Publishers Foundation for an article on Senate "holds," and also has won awards from the American Library Association, the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, and the business Council for the Reduction of Paperwork. Most recently, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. An expert in transparency at international governing bodies and multi-national financial institutions, he has been a member of the editorial board of, an online network of international freedom of information advocates, also he also serves as Steering Committee Coordinator for the Global Transparency Initiative. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Government from Oberlin College.


Miriam Nisbet recently returned from Paris to accept a career Senior Executive Service appointment as Founding Director of the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) at the National Archives and Records Administration, the new FOIA ombudsman and policy office created by the 2007 FOIA Amendments. During the past two years, she was Director of the Information Society Division of UNESCO in Paris, and she also served on the Obama Transition Team. Prior to that, she was Legislative Counsel at the American Library Association from 1999 to 2007, where she was a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Hague Conference on Private International Law representing libraries, and she worked at the National Archives and Records Administration from 1993 to 1999, where she first occupied the post of Special Assistant to the Archivist of the United States and then Special Counsel for Information Policy. She was a staff attorney at the National Association of Attorneys General during 1977-1978, before joining the Department of Justice, where she worked from 1978 to 1993. At the Justice Department, she served for nearly a dozen years as the Deputy Director of the Office of Information and Privacy (OIP), in connection with which she also held a senior leadership position as part of the national continuity-of-government team for several years. She is a member of the American Bar Association and of the American Law Institute. She also is a long-time member of the American Society of Access Professionals, serving as its President and as a Member of its Board of Directors. Representing libraries, she was President of the Americans For Fair Electronic Commerce Transactions (AFFECT).


Dan Metcalfe joined the faculty of the Washington College of Law in 2007 as a Faculty Fellow in Law and Government upon retiring from a career in government service that began at the Department of Justice in 1971. He now is both an adjunct professor at WCL and Executive Director of the school's Collaboration on Government Secrecy. In 1981, after a judicial clerkship and serving as a Justice Department trial attorney, he was appointed as a founding director of the Department's Office of Information and Privacy (OIP). For more than a quarter-century, he guided all federal agencies on the governmentwide administration of the Freedom of Information Act, directly supervised the defense of more than 500 FOIA and Privacy Act lawsuits in district and appellate courts, testified before Congress on FOIA legislation, and met with representatives of nearly 100 nations and international governing bodies as they considered the development and implementation of their own government transparency laws. He became a career member of the Senior Executive Service in 1984, the youngest Justice Department attorney then and since to hold such a position, and he also has been appointed as an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at University College London. He currently is writing a textbook on secrecy law together with WCL Professor Stephen I. Vladeck, for publication by Carolina Academic Press, and is the author of several publications, most recently The Nature of Government Secrecy, 26 Gov't Info. Quarterly 305 (2009), and Sunshine Not So Bright: FOIA Implementation Lags Behind, 34 Admin. & Reg. L. News 5 (Summer 2009).


Alasdair Roberts is the Jerome L. Rappaport Professor of Law and Public Policy at Suffolk University Law School. He writes extensively on problems of governance, law, and public policy. His next book, Disciplined Democracies: Global Capitalism and the New Architecture of Government, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2010. His last book, The Collapse of Fortress Bush: The Crisis of Authority in American Government, was published by New York University Press in 2008. Kirkus Reviews called it "a trenchant analysis of the last eight years of American political history." A previous book, Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age, received the 2006 Brownlow Book Award from the National Academy of Public Administration and three other academic book awards. He has also won several awards for his journal articles.

Professor Roberts was elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration in 2007. He is also an Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the School of Public Policy, University College London. Previously he has had fellowships with the Open Society Institute and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is co-editor of the journal Governance and also on the editorial boards of several other journals in the field of public administration.

Before joining Suffolk Law, Professor Roberts was a professor of public administration in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and an associate professor of public administration at Queen's University, Canada. He received a J.D. from the University of Toronto in 1984, a Master's Degree in Public Policy from Harvard University in 1986, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University in 1994. His web address is


John Verdi is Senior Counsel and Director of the Open Government Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). His work focuses on legal issues relating to open government, consumer privacy, and digital security. He litigates EPIC's freedom of information lawsuits against federal agencies and state governments. He is co-author of several federal amicus curiae briefs concerning electronic privacy, is co-editor of Litigation Under the Federal Open Government Laws 2008, and speaks on consumer privacy issues in a variety of venues, including academic conferences and in the media. Prior to joining EPIC, John was a civil litigation associate in Washington, D.C. His litigation experience includes matters relating to federal and state open records statutes, Administrative Procedure Act claims regarding federal oversight, and tort cases involving digital information misappropriation and misuse. Prior to his career as a lawyer, John worked as a computer programmer on a variety of projects, including several applications involving secure financial data. He also advised the National Hockey League on a host of technology issues, including data collection as it relates to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School and earned his B.A. in Philosophy, Politics, and Law at Binghamton University. John is a member of the District of Columbia and New Jersey bars.

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