Senator Patrick Leahy to Give Keynote Address at Freedom of Information Day Conference


WASHINGTON, DC, March 3, 2009 — Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will give the keynote address at American University Washington College of Law's "Second Annual Freedom of Information Day Celebration," March 16, 2009, 8:30 am — 5:30 pm (4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC, Room 603). The conference is presented by the Collaboration on Government Secrecy and will include the presentation of the 2009 "Robert Vaughn FOIA Legend Award" to Senator Leahy.

"We are extremely pleased that Senator Leahy, the leading congressional champion of government transparency for nearly three decades, will be with us to celebrate Freedom of Information Day," said Daniel J. Metcalfe, executive director of the Collaboration on Government Secrecy. "This year, more than any other, it is essential that all members of the openness-in-government community work collaboratively together to assist both Congress and the Obama Administration in reversing the unprecedented course of secrecy that developed during the past eight years."

Leading transparency experts will discuss major openness-in-government issues, particularly in light of the remarkable "Day One" Freedom of Information Act and information-policy directives issued by President Barack Obama on January 21. Speakers include representatives from the National Archives and Records Administration, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Economic Policy Institute, and investigative journalists Michael Isikoff and Scott Armstrong. In addition, the members of the statutorily created Public Interest Declassification Board will attend the conference, and the FOIA Legend award will be presented to Senator Leahy by former Member of Congress Thomas J. Downey, WCL class of 1980.

In the United States, Freedom of Information Day is celebrated each year on March 16, which kicks off what is now known as "Sunshine Week." This second annual FOI Day celebration helps launch a Sunshine Week (March 15-21) of related activities by media and public interest groups nationwide.

To register for the conference go to Media should contact Franki Fitterer at 202-274-4279.

Full Conference Schedule

8:30 am Registration and Continental Breakfast
9:00 am Welcome and Introduction: Daniel J. Metcalfe, Executive Director, Collaboration on Government Secrecy, Washington College of Law
9:15 am Panel One: Overclassification, Declassification, and Executive Order Change — an analysis of national security classification under existing Executive Order 12,958, as well as the prospects for its revision.
Speakers: Steven Aftergood, Executive Director, Project on Government Secrecy, Federation of American Scientists; William J. Bosanko, Director, Information Security Oversight Office, National Archives and Records Administration, and Executive Secretary, Public Interest Declassification Board (2004-2008) and Steven Garfinkel, Former Director (1980-2002), Information Security Oversight Office, National Archives and Records Administration, Executive Secretary, Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel (ISCAP), Member, Public Interest Declassification Board, and Chairman, Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Records Interagency Working Group
10:15 am Panel Two: "Bailing Out on Transparency" — a critical consideration of the openness limitations of the government's recent "TARP," financial industry bailout, and economic stimulus-related activities.
Speakers: Ryan Alexander, President, Taxpayers for Common Sense; Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project on Government Oversight; John Irons, Research and Policy Director, Economic Policy Institute; Greg LeRoy, Executive Director, Good Jobs First, and Co-Organizer, Coalition for Accountable Recovery; and Gary D. Bass, Founder and Executive Director, OMB Watch (moderator)
11:15 am Break
11:30 am Introduction and Award Presentation: Thomas J. Downey, Chairman, Downey McGrath Group, Inc., and Former Representative, New York's Second Congressional District (1975-1993)
Keynote Address: Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Committee
12:45 pm Luncheon Speaker: Dr. Harold C. Relyea, recently retired scholar specializing in national government (1971-2009), Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress
1:45 pm Panel Three: "CUI or See You Later" — an up-to-date look at the continuing murky world of "pseudosecrecy."
Speakers: Sean Moulton, Director, Federal Information Policy, OMB Watch; Adina H. Rosenbaum, Director, Freedom of Information Clearinghouse, Public Citizen Litigation Group; and Patrick D. Viscuso, Associate Director for Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI), Information Security Oversight Office, National Archives and Records Administration
2:45 pm Panel Four: "Born Digital But Preserved in Hard Copy?" — a discussion of E-Gov and records management practices as vital foundations of all disclosure regimes, with emphasis on much needed reforms, on the 20th anniversary of the Armstrong v. Executive Office of the President ("PROFS System") litigation.
Speakers: Jason R. Baron, Director of Litigation, National Archives and Records Administration, and Scott Armstrong, Executive Director, Information Trust, former investigative journalist for The Washington Post, and co-author of The Brethren
3:45 pm Break
4:00 pm Panel Five: An Early Assessment of the Obama Administration — in the nearly two months since President Obama stunned the openness-in-government community and federal workforce alike with his strong pro-disclosure words and "Day One" transparency and FOIA memoranda, has that momentum carried forward or has it lagged, including as to implementation of the 2007 FOIA Amendments?
Speakers: Thomas S. Blanton, Director, National Security Archive; Michael Isikoff, Investigative Correspondent, Newsweek, and newly named contributor to MSNBC; David Sobel, Senior Counsel and Director, FOIA Litigation for Accountable Government (FLAG) Project, Electronic Frontier Foundation; and Thomas M. Susman, Director of Governmental Affairs, American Bar Association, and 2008 "Robert Vaughn FOIA Legend Award" recipient (moderator)
5:00 pm Reception — With the Chairman and Members of the Public Interest Declassification Board