USTR Refuses To Release Congressional Research Service Study On Legality Of ACTA

from the why-is-this-kept-secret? dept

We've talked about how ridiculous it is that the government keeps Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports secret. The organization, which is widely respected and tends to do thorough, objective and useful research, technically produces reports that are in the public domain. However, the recipients of those reports (usually members of Congress or other government employees) often don't want to let those documents out for that very reason. If you're pushing for a certain law, and CRS research proves that there are problems with it, you don't want that info to get out. Of course, if we had intellectually honest politicians (stop laughing!), they would not just publish the research, but would actually use it to guide some of their policy making decisions.

Back in October, you may recall that Senator Ron Wyden, one of the very few elected officials to actually understand and to worry about the implications of ACTA, asked the CRS to study ACTA to see how it would impact US law. That report has been delivered to the USTR, and KEI filed a FOIA request to see the document. However, the USTR has refused to provide the document. The USTR really seems to take a "secrecy first, transparency never" view on all things ACTA, doesn't it? It certainly makes you wonder what's in that report, doesn't it?

KEI is now appealing the rejection, claiming that the USTR's explanation for denying the request is simply not supported by the law. The USTR claims that it can't hand out the document, because it belongs to CRS. This is simply incorrect, as KEI noted in its reply. Of course, it's also unclear why Senator Wyden's office doesn't release the document itself, but the feeling there is that he doesn't want to upset the USTR either.
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Filed Under: acta, crs, transparency, ustr


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  1. icon
    James Love (profile), 28 Mar 2011 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re:

    For more context, consider that the report would not have existed if Senator Wyden did not request it from CRS. And, USTR was given the report at a time when USTR was evaluating last minute changes in the agreement, or the content of a possible signing statement. As chair of a Senate subcommittee on trade, Senator Wyden works closely with the USTR. I would be looking now at USTR to release the report. If USTR claims they don't have permission to release the report, and if that is not true, then someone at USTR is lying, or not making much an effort to sort things out.

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