Skip to content

Open & Shut

A collection of notable quotations From the Winter 2009 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 36. “All…

A collection of notable quotations

From the Winter 2009 issue of The News Media & The Law, page 36.

“All the administrations I have covered — dating back to Kennedy — have been secretive and shown little respect for keeping the people informed of what is being done in their name — unless a president wants to brag about an accomplishment. Then the government’s giant information machine whirls into action. But secrecy goes with the White House turf.”

— Helen Thomas, in a Jan. 28 column for Hearst Newspapers

“For a long time there’s been too much secrecy in this city. The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known.”

— President Obama, as he signed a memo on the first full day in office restoring a presumption of access under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

“I don’t understand why they are fighting so hard on this. . . . The only thing I can think of is they don’t want to create a bad precedent on FOIA. They’re trying to preserve the right to do whatever the hell they please under FOIA.”

— U.S. District Judge John Tunheim, of Minnesota, who oversaw the declassification of five million pages of John F. Kennedy’s records in the 1990s, saying a newly uncovered set of documents also stemming from the president’s 1963 assassination ought to be made public. The CIA is fighting hard to keep the papers classified.

“The freedom of the press should not be allowed and should not be required [to give] such transparency to the policy process that that policy process is stifled in its operation.”

— Karl Rove, speaking at Loyola Marymount University about government leaks and the harm he says they do.

“One of the ironies of having it sealed . . . is you’re having much more pretrial publicity than you would have had.”

— Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Nancy Moate Ley, speaking to the defense in a Florida homicide case, on a warrant she unsealed.

“It is my belief that a carefully crafted law to shield the press in the way that you have described is appropriate.

— Eric Holder, speaking about a federal shield law for reporters at his Jan. 15 confirmation hearing

“In many ways, this case is about the so-called Internet Generation — the generation that has grown up with computer technology in general, and the Internet in particular, as commonplace. . . . The public benefit of offering a more complete view of these proceedings is plain.”

— U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner, agreeing to allow a Webcast of a pretrial hearing in a file-sharing lawsuit