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News media groups seek Gonzales review of 'Ashcroft Memorandum'

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Following news reports that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has agreed to "take a look at" the Freedom of Information…

Following news reports that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has agreed to “take a look at” the Freedom of Information Act guidance issued by his predecessor and known as “The Ashcroft Memorandum,” the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and several other news organizations asked the new attorney general to give “vigorous endorsement” to the underlying principles of openness embodied in the Freedom of Information Act.

The news media organizations noted that current guidance to other federal agencies includes one paragraph establishing the administration’s commitment to the FOI Act and four extolling the need to safeguard, protect and withhold information, leading to speculation that the Department of Justice may not have viewed enforcement of the act as an important priority.

The groups told Gonzales that renewed attention to the act by the nation’s top law enforcement official would be influential in convincing the federal workforce that the Department of Justice has not in any way retreated from the principles of openness embodied in the Freedom of Information Act.

A copy of the letter is available at: www.rcfp.org/news/documents/20050802-lettertoat.pdf.