Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Right to Government Transparency... Records Archive

The 10th Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero,
writes on his government blog, 
"Citizens have the right to see, examine, and learn from the records
 that document the actions of their government."
In an unprecedented and low-profile move, on Nov. 28, 2011,
U.S. President Obama sent out a Memo to all executive department heads
with the goal to reform government records management.

The memo reads,
"Improving records management will improve performance
and promote openness and accountability (my italics)
by better documenting agency actions and decisions. 
Records transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
provide the prism (my italics) through which future generations
will understand and learn from our actions and decisions."

Note the words "records transferred."
Will this mean there will be a silent censoring of records not transferred
as a "provided prism" lets outsiders only see certain items?

Prism is defined as a transparent body that disperses light.
Will government transparency become the limited clarity of a crystal prism,
with information scattered, irregular, or even vanished?

A prism is distorted transparency.

Post-Wikileaks plan for open U.S. government, dated 9/20/2011.
The U.S. is part of the Open Government Partnership
launched by 8 countries on 9/20/2011.
Where was the NEWS on this?

Of course, a well-kept electronic management of records
by any government is important for history.
While not electronic, the German Nazi records were so precise and well-kept
that historians have an important research tool of World War II,
(excepting those records destroyed as evidence by the Nazis themselves).

Which words will be written?
Which words and images will be kept?
What will be left for historians and citizens?


Anonymous said...

In my opinion, this is distorted transparency. Yes! there is accountability but we will only see what they want us to see.


Anonymous said...

I believe that all governments are censored to some extent. Just like it has been said recording is like a prism let in light and it separates the light into the light spectrum. By having the option to record you have a few options to either record what you want or not record it at all. Another reason that I believe records are censored is because no one is walking around with a pencil and paper writing their every moment down. People write their moments down after they have happened and things may be forgotten either on purpose or by mistake. JPG

Mr.Drama said...

Have you ever had a moment in your life where you make a decision and you realize; "Man, why did i do that", i know i have, and the first thing i would want is to keep it a secret. There are many moments in time that our government has taken action. Many of these actions can be categorized as shameful; Events include the Bay of Pigs, The Watergate scandal and so on. I do agree that we have the right to read and record our documents, but what I am suggesting is that maybe some things are better kept unsaid.

Anonymous said...

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" George Santaya

I am a big believer of learning from past mistakes as to not repeat them in the future. For this reason, I believe in a transparent and open government. I have lived through 4 U.S. depressions, 1980-82, 1990-93, 1999-2001, and 2008-to present. Each one being identified as worse that the great depression; It sounds like a song that is played every decade. Did we not foresee these things happening? We learn about trends, migration, culture, and so much more, why not learn from our documented history or current events? We always seem surprised, even if we feel like we have been in this same situation before.

Whom do we hold accountable for the terror our country went through for what seemed to be a much announced attack? Yes, the terrorist of course, but whom here? This was a second attempt on our World Trade Center. I love this country and I want to learn more about how to protect it. Give me history, give me experience and allow me the right to “see, examine, and learn from the records that document the actions of” my government

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." Karl Marx T.L.

Anonymous said...

I have no doubt in my mind that the government will censor some to most of the records that is to be released to the public. Personally, I can't blame them. God knows what has been kept secret from the general public for generations know; secrets they won't release for still more generations to come. I believe, to a curtain, that we as the people can't handle the truth. However, being that curiosity is apart of our nature it will not matter if the government censors the records or not, because we will have the truth weather we want it or not.

Anonymous said...

Exposing our government(s) is a way of keeping balance within our world. In places like the U.S., there was a time when the police was a lot more corrupt than it is now, it was the media and people exposing its nature that helped put their corruption down. Things must always be kept open to the people, for when people disagree to certain things, they have knowledge to make the decision of whether they should rise up against it, or not.

Anonymous said...

My comment is the one above this one.


Anonymous said...

We have the right to knowledge. This is our country. "United we stand," it is indeed our business to know what is going on. The United States is our house and we must know what is occurring under our roof.


Anonymous said...

In today’s world with the increase in crime and global terrorism, governments increasingly feel that to protect their citizens, they must breach the barricades of public information. There is, therefore, a battle to balance a government’s responsibility to protect its citizens and an individual’s right in having access to detail government records. -YEM

Anonymous said...

Reading this instantly brought the images of zombies invading our society. Every result is made by another humans triumph or mistake. I am an individual and can be effected and will affect. Like money our actions and experiments travel. I believe it takes a wise patient mind to be a leader, but a perfect one the world is bound to never find. I hold the right to know the truth about what I am living under and what my surrounding is in risk of. I sigh, watching reality. Maximum Peace is the strive. If there’s a virus out there perhaps we shouldn’t know.

Anonymous said...

I believe our government lets us see what they want us to see. They try to make some of us believe that what is public is all that they know. We have the right to know what goes on in our government, because we are the “united States” and we are a free country. Unfortunately, our government calls the shots and we are limited to our knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I don’t truly belief that the government will give us all the information they have, for several reasons: First reason, to national security the enemies of America might use this information with other purposes.
Second reason, some people won’t understand some of the government actions or situations; like economic, and this can bring fear among the citizens.

Anonymous said...

The key word is "improving" insight to the public. Currently, we are shown what the government wants us to see. We are shown news that has been filtered out by the FCC, and I think that 2 out of the 3 communication sources are owned by government. While we have the right to free speech, it is limited when discussing the true intentions of our government. So, I feel that we would only gain limited information on policies and what really occurs within walls of our government.

Anonymous said...

Government transparency seems to be important in maintaining trust in those who rule our countries. However, what of national security if records can be so easily visited and viewed? How does a country with a history of attacks against it protect themselves if the public were to demand governmental records to be public? It is hard to critique any government that prefers to filter those documents they can share, and those that are of national security and should be obscured. ALB

RCW said...

I believe Government fulfills its role most effectively when its activities are open and transparent to citizens. With visibility into government actions and spending, people are more likely to participate in the political process and hold government officials accountable for their actions. When citizens engage in the issues that affect them, they can help to ensure that power and public funds are used wisely and are representative of their interests.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I would like to disagree, transparency within Government records, in which the population may have access to, may lead to distortion of the massage for the uneducated, or worse, those knowledgeable enough will have the tools to persuade the ignorant against its institution. There are subjects that society should be aware of, nevertheless, there are topics kept away from the common individual as safety precaution and for the common welfare.


Anonymous said...

There is a fine line between a concerned society in its Government’s affairs and a society with unlimited access to Governments records. Something I have learned through my job experiences is that when you provide unknown information to the general population, messages, arguments and records get distorted in the process. There should be a general consent of certain Government activities, only because not all will understand the actions taken, since not all have the ability to think the true meaning of the message.

Anonymous said...

Whether the government decides not to cue us in to certain things is a matter of questions. First comes why not, every one should know what is going on in our country, but do we all have the same thoughts as others ? No! Many will take things way beyond their understandings and others will interpret things in the opposite direction. So do we really win knowing what their every step is? In a sense we may want to know what will come at us or what distruction we will encounter, but other than that there's countless reasons .

Bruna said...

There are no goverments that are completely transparent in what they do. What is publicly known and available is usually different than the actual story. There is always bias whenever the human element is involved. However, there is much deception in politics, which goes beyond mere bias. The public usually knows no more than what government wants us to know.

Fidela said...

I believe that transparency of records is essential for the public as well as for history. At the same time, open records will help politicians to behave accordingly while rendering their services for the people. Also a more strict control of documents should be implemented in order to avoid the overwhelming scandals occurred during the Clinton's administration of improper handling of documents, i.e.,some documents were removed from archives, and some other documents mysteriously appeared in a different government office.

SKT said...

The government is a corrupt government, no matter where you are in the world. Whether it be America, China, Cuba, Iraq, etc. No matter where you are located the government is corrupt. There's always a lot of behind the scenes things that aren't constitutional but we only see, and hear the things the government allows us to. We have no choice but to believe what they are telling us because there's no way in proving them wrong and we are living under there jurisdiction. In other words we have no say so, what ever information they give us is final

Anonymous said...

In the United States of America there is a lack of government transparency.There a many things hidden from the public, with the intention to not generate panic. Although, there are things that should not be hidden from the public, and there is valuable information that could be use for future generations.

Anonymous said...

I believe that even if more things were open and available to the people, they would still be of little or no importance and would have been carefully chosen to satisfy people’s needs to know temporarily .