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Marsha Woodbury

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Clinton, Reno, and Freedom of Information: From Waldheim to Whitewater

Marsha Woodbury analyzes Bill Clinton and Janet Reno’s record with regard to the Freedom of Information Act. Woodbury reviews the origins and development of FOIA, the many ways in which Presidents Reagan and Bush restricted its operation, and the bureaucratic and judicial obstacles that block the process of obtaining information. She then describes the strong vocal support of Clinton and Reno for FOIA, their actions to enhance its effectiveness in the new administration, and the very real improvements that have resulted. Nevertheless, as Woodbury notes, despite their political rhetoric and some actual gains, the Clinton administration, like the ones before it, has a less than sterling record in dealing with specific requests for information concerning a number of sensitive topics. The most challenging part of Woodbury’s analysis points to the underlying structural constraints to real freedom of access to government documents and to the reality that, because the FOIA’s biggest users are corporations, it is corporations rather than public groups who may be the ultimate beneficiaries of expanded FOIA powers.

scandals, Clinton administration, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Reagan administration, government secrecy, U.S. attorney general

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 22, No. 2 (1995): 49-66

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