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http://ssrn.com/abstract=651402
 
 

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Under Attack: The Public's Right to Know and the War on Terror


Mary-Rose Papandrea


Boston College - Law School


Boston College Third World Law Journal, Vol. 25, 2005

Abstract:     
Since the September 11 attacks, courts have been reluctant to uphold the public's right to obtain government information through the Freedom of Information Act and the First Amendment right of access. Given the doctrinal and statutory confusion plaguing both FOIA and the First Amendment right of access since their inception, and the judiciary's historic tendency to defer to the Executive in matters implicating national security, recent appellate decisions rejecting right to know claims may seem unsurprising. But a closer reading of these cases reveals that the judiciary's failure to uphold the public's right to government transparency has been based on a fundamental lack of appreciation for and hostility to the right's very existence. These cases suggest that an enforceable right to know is unnecessary because the political process is adequate to force government disclosure. History amply demonstrates, however, the political process's incapacity to compel government disclosure, particularly when the nation is in a time of crisis and the government activities at issue concern noncitizens.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 48

Keywords: Freedom of Information Act, War on terror, First Amendment right of access, Right to know, National security, Disclosure of information, Richmond Newspapers, Inc. v. Virginia

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Date posted: January 27, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Papandrea, Mary-Rose, Under Attack: The Public's Right to Know and the War on Terror. Boston College Third World Law Journal, Vol. 25, 2005. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=651402

Contact Information

Mary-Rose Papandrea (Contact Author)
Boston College - Law School ( email )
885 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02459-1163
United States
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