FARA records may go online


…at least that’s what FARA employees told me today. I was at the FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) offices at the Department of Justice this afternoon browsing around to find out more about a couple of organizations I came across in the earmarks database. Unfortunately, FARA’s searchable database was not functioning and it was pulling up all records for each country no matter how I framed the search query.

But it appears that FARA has finally stepped up and is working on a new searchable database that should be up and working in “three or four months,” according to FARA officials.

On the up side, this would make the most revealing government lobbying disclosure form available at the click of a mouse. Among the things that foreign agents, who represent foreign governments and foreign government-controlled entities, must reveal are: each meeting or contact they have with members of Congress, their staff, and executive branch officials.

On the down side, if these records do go online, I would miss the one room office in the recesses of DoJ’s New York Avenue office, mainly because it reminds me of government offices back home in India.

This room has four Compaq computers for users, an old world map on the wall in front and has an air of an old library with bookshelves and filing cabinets containing documents at least a few decades old.