The use of drones in America is ramping up — and the issue is getting a lot of attention in Washington.Continue reading
It was a very busy week for Politwoops with a number of notable deletions, a slew of mentions by major media outlets and tens of thousands of new visitors.Continue reading
After years of waiting for the technology and regulations to catch up to our goals, we’re finally able to unveil our latest project: Transparency Drone.Continue reading
Image released by the United States Air Force
The looming sequester--across-board-cuts in defense and domestic discretionary spending that Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to in 2011--was the subject in opening remarks at an unusual press briefing offered by officals of Northrop Grumman, a major defense contractor that could see its business shrink along with the Pentagon budget.
In 2012, Northrop Grumman ranked tenth among U.S. contractors with $4.2 billion in awards mostly from the Pentagon, data in USASpending.gov shows. And according to the Center for Responsive Politics, Northrop Grumman ranked as the tenth largest spender on ...Continue reading
The White House finally agreed to allow lawmakers (not the public) to see the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel memo authorizing the use of drone strikes on civilians, the New York Times reports, but as a Sunlight analysis has shown, the administration is still withholding 37% of these crucially important legal opinions from public view (that were issued from inauguration in 2009 until March 2012). The administration is even holding on to much older opinions. 39% of OLC opinions issued between 1998 and 2012 are still being withheld from online publication, accounting for 201 of the 509 opinions issued during that time, our August 2012 analysis found. This three minute Advisory Committee on Transparency video, featuring CREW's Jeremy Miller, explains the importance of the OLC opinions. Secret law and good governance do not mix. While we recognize that there occasionally may be reasons that countenance against their full release, we recommend the following:
- The Office of Legal Counsel should refresh its website to indicate how many memos are issued each year. It should adopt the default of releasing all memos, not just the ones it deems “significant” (as such a distinction invites abuse and mistrust), and should do so prospectively and retrospectively.
- Where OLC cannot release an opinion in its entirety, it should release versions that are redacted as lightly as possible.
- At a minimum, the titles of opinions should be released, and if even that raises insurmountable issues, descriptions of memos should be available in their stead.
- Finally, the administration should consider bringing in a trusted reviewer from outside the executive branch who can credibly (and publicly) make recommendations about the release of additional opinions.
Regardless of who wins the presidential election, the next administration will have enormous power to say how open our government will be. We have organized our priorities for the next administration below, to share where we think our work on executive branch issues will be focused, in advance of the election results. From money in politics to open data, spending, and freedom of information, we'll be working to open up the Executive Branch. We'd love to hear any suggestions you might have for Sunlight's Executive Branch work, please leave additional ideas in the comments below. (We'll also be sharing other recommendations soon, including a legislative agenda for the 113th Congress, and a suite of reform proposals for the House and Senate rules packages.) Sunlight Reform Agenda for the Next Administration:Continue reading