FOIA Advisor

FOIA News: House bill seeks to restore National Security Council to FOIA's orbit

FOIA News (2015-16)Allan BlutsteinComment

Bill would make National Security Council subject to FOIA again

By Josh Gerstein, Politico, Apr. 13, 2016

Legislation introduced Wednesday in the House would allow the public to request National Security Council records under the Freedom of Information Act, restoring the status quo that existed until a court ruling two decades ago effectively put the council beyond the reach of the federal government's pre-eminent transparency law.

Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) filed the bill, citing reports of major growth in the National Security Council's size, as well as accusations from former officials that the National Security Council micromanaged military commanders in the field. In recent years, such complaints have been aired publicly by former Defense secretaries Bob Gates, Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta. The trio's objections were also prominently featured in a Fox News special broadcast earlier this month.

"The increasing micromanagement from the White House directly reduces the amount of oversight that Congress can have and undermines the authority of the Department of Defense,” said Walorski, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “This legislation is critical for this and future administrations and serves as a public reminder that presidents cannot avoid public scrutiny or accountability by consolidating authority in the White House.”

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