Skip to comments.(AP/Ipsos) Poll: 7 in 10 worried about gov't secrecy
Posted on 03/12/2005 9:50:59 PM PST by NormsRevenge
Americans feel strongly that good government depends on openness with the public, with seven out of 10 people concerned about government secrecy, a new poll says.
The poll, conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs for Sunshine Week, a coalition of media organizations and other groups pressing for government access, found that more than half of Americans believe government should provide more access to its records.
Even more - 70 percent - are either "somewhat concerned" or "very concerned" about government secrecy. Nearly as many felt access to public records was "crucial" to good government.
The results come amid growing debate about openness at all levels of government in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks: Open-government advocates say the government has become more secretive at the price of a healthy democracy, while government defenders say the times demand that national security weigh a little more heavily in the balance between openness and privacy.
A bipartisan bill now in the U.S. Senate seeks to revisit the federal Freedom of Information Act to address many of the open-government complaints.
"A government that inoculates itself so it can operate in secret is not serving the best interests of the country," said Chris Farrell, director of investigations and research at Judicial Watch, a Washington-based watchdog group.
Among the poll's findings:
- 52 percent said there is too little access to government records; 36 percent said access is "just about right"; 6 percent said there is too much.
- 50 percent said access to court records is "just about right," while 33 percent said there is too little and 8 percent said there is too much.
- When it comes to government meetings and hearings, 48 percent said there is too little access, 42 percent said access is "just about right" and 5 percent said there is too much.
The public attitudes toward open government, records and open meetings were very similar to an earlier poll conducted in February 2000.
"We were surprised to see that there was little change in public thinking on secrecy after the attacks of 9/11," said Andy Alexander, chairman of the American Society of Newspaper Editors' Freedom of Information Committee.
"With the ongoing war and continuing concerns about terrorism, you might think that people would be more tolerant of government's tightening control of information, but these results suggest that's not the case. The survey indicates people are not only concerned about secrecy but also recognize the importance of access to information about their government," said Alexander, who is also Washington bureau chief for Cox Newspapers.
Nearly a third of respondents said they had sought government records about themselves - almost a quarter from local government, one in five from state government, and one in 10 from the federal government. More than two-thirds of those responding said they had never requested such records.
The poll surveyed 1,003 adults from March 4-6 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
Loose lips sink ships.
Don't these people have any kind of life. Personally, I spend about one minute per years thinking about governmental secrecy.
Your minute is up---and so is mine, sheesh
Ah.... 7 out of 10? Most people are idiots and believe ANYTHING you tell them. Remember 4 out of 5 doctors? Anyway, the correct answer is 10 out of 10. You want something kept confidential... dont write it, dont speak it, just think it.
We can't even get 70% nationwide turnout in an election.
Another BS AP/Ipsos "poll" that supports the liberal agenda.
"You want something kept confidential... dont write it, dont speak it, just think it.'
This statement in the US "home of the free" who can hardly be called brave any longer.
Have we ever seen the work of the "thought police"? Thinking it is forbidden these days, too.
I have to agree with that statement. I'm a firm believer that the government works for us, not the other way around.
7 in 10.
Wait. 6 in 9.
Hold on...it's actually 5 in 8.
No, 4 in 7.
3 in 6.
Hey! Where did everybody go?
What do you mean there were only six when we started?
Heck, I don't even think that 7 out of 10 U.S. Senators or Congresscritters should be trusted with our nation's secrets, much less the general public.
The media is just mad because the Bush admin doesn't blab about everything like Clinton did.
"The poll, conducted by Ipsos-Public Affairs for Sunshine Week, a coalition of media organizations and other groups pressing for government access, found that more than half of Americans believe government should provide more access to its records."
Yeah..this isn't rigged or anything.
Thanks for reminding me, I was gonna dig into Sunshine Week a bit,, quite a wrecking crew is onboard as a "Steering Committee"
General news and commentary about freedom of information and secrecy issues:
The Cape Cod Times won a two-year legal battle when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a county sheriff must disclose the names of his reserve deputies. The sheriff had argued that the deputies were members of a private association and immune from public information laws. The court, however, noted that the deputies report to the sheriff in his official capacity, not to him as a private citizen. Cape Cod Times editor Cliff Schechtman called the ruling "quite a victory for the public's right to know and a defeat for government secrecy."
To call attention to the range of stories that appear in the newspaper each day that rely on access to government records, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution developed a special report highlighting relevant stories over the past month. The report appeared in the Sunday paper, as well as on the AJC Web site.
Selected papers of former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton are being made public, the first release of Clinton documents since his presidency ended, reports FAS Secrecy News.
Newsday reports that even though the number of public affairs officers in the federal government has increased during the Bush administration, their role appears to involve controlling information more than disseminating it. Read the whole story here.
The Department of Justice backs off earlier attempts to classify documents already made public, allowing the Project on Government Oversight to post on its Web site letters from senators regarding alleged mistreatment of an FBI whistleblower, The Washington Post reports.
Newhouse News Service reports on the increasing number of Republican lawmakers who are actively working toward expanding public access to government information. This article may be republished by any Sunshine Week participant.
Cox Newspapers takes a look at government secrecy around the world. In the main story, reporter Rebecca Carr finds that while openness is increasing in other nations, the U.S. has become more secretive, particularly since 9/11. Sidebars by correspondents Don Melvin and Julie Chao examine the state of government information in Sweden, Britain and China. Please note: These articles may be republished only by clients of The New York Times News Service.
A statewide Freedom of Information audit led by the Kentucky Press Association, The Associated Press and other journalism groups, reminds lawmakers of the importance of open government, draws support for better understanding of the state's Open Records Act, the AP reports(via the Louisville Courier-Journal).
A successful Sunshine Sunday effort will raise public consciousness about an issue critical to democracy, reports American Society of Newspaper Editors FOI Chairman Andy Alexander in "Sunshine Sunday: Making the Case for Open Access," The American Editor, January-February 2005.
The post-9/11 era has become one of the worst for government openness, reports Coalition of Journalists for Open Government coordinator Pete Weitzel in "Keeping Secrets," The American Editor, May-June 2004.
Behind the Homefront, a daily update of homeland security and military issues affecting newsgathering and access to information compiled by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) writes about why he is a champion of open government in the Fall 2004 issue of the LBJ Journal of Public Affairs.
The Associated Press reports on how police, hospital officials and others' misunderstanding of HIPAA regulations leads to information being unnecessarily withheld. (Via WKYT)
Fort Worth Star-Telegram editorial lauds plan to train state workers in open records and meetings compliance.
Scripps Howard News Service reports that information once routinely released by the government has been increasingly withdrawn from the public as federal agencies cite post-9/11 secrecy rules.
Privatization of federal-spending databases is thwarting access to key information by the public, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Outgoing FCC Chairman Michael Powell says commissioners should be able to meet in private, says the current system does not foster foster "frank, open discussion," The Associated Press reports. (Via The Washington Post)
The American Journalism Review February-March 2005 issue examines the Bush administration practice of tightly controlling information; observers wonder if this is the template for the future.
The Iowa Supreme Court rules that by fundraising for Iowa State University, the Iowa State University Foundation performs a government function, thus making it accountable under the state Freedom of Information Act, the Student Press Law Center reports.
Louisiana high-school student shows that one person, no matter how old, can make a difference in open government, when he successfully lobbies the state legislature to allow minors the same access to public records as adults, the Student Press Law Center Bulletin reports.
Now, why on earth would you spend all that valuable time contemplating this issue? If you were to halve that excessive cogitative expenditure of time and energy, you could use it to...scratch your head, fill your tires with air, take the shirts to the laundry, pet the dog, floss your teeth, etc. I feel fifteen seconds is more than enough time spent thinking about this issue.
You're absolutely correct!
My belated New Year's resolution is to ONLY devote 15 seconds per year to worrying about governmental secrecy.
I feel MUCH better now. ;)