The Senate's passage of the Open FOIA Act Tuesday was cause for both disappointment and applause from a coalition of media groups, including the National Association of Broadcasters.
The disappointment came from the carve-out for hundreds of photos documenting treatment of detainees under U.S. forces' control. It was the publication of such photos that shed light on abuses at Abu Graib.
"With this action," said the Sunshine In Government Initiative in a statement, "Congress has cut litigation short – despite two court rulings requiring disclosure of the photographs – and drilled one more hole in FOIA and added to the more than 240 exemptions written into law."
On the plus side, the bill also requires the invocation of any future Freedom of Information Act exemptions to cite the specific part of the act that permits them, which will make it easier to identify and debate those proposed exemptions.
The bill has already passed the House and is expected to be signed by the president, according to the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).
“The protection of the public’s right to know and access government information may be RTDNA’s most important mission,” said RTDNA Chairman Stacey Woelfel in a statement. “This legislation is a small step toward more open government and will send a signal to lawmakers that government secrecy should be a rare occurrence.”