Friday, November 18, 2011

Blair-Iraq and the Brits Freedom of Information Law

Blair regrets passing freedom of information law

November 16, 2011 - Poised on the brink of power, Tony Blair made an impassioned vow: Britain's jealously-held culture of official secrecy would be dramatically swept away.

Fifteen years later, the country has a thriving right to information law, with almost 44,000 requests made to central government last year, and recently announced it would accept some demands for government data posted using Twitter. So former prime minister Blair must now reflect with pride on delivering his promise?

Not exactly.

"You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop," Blair wrote of himself in his autobiography "A Journey" last year, recalling his adoption of the law, which took effect in 2005. "There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it."

Britain's experience gives a close-up view of how controversial freedom of information laws can be, at a time when they are spreading rapidly around the world.

Blair was once a leading advocate for the people's right to know what their government is doing behind closed doors. But even before Britain's law passed, Blair had hurriedly watered down his original plans and stalled the bill's progress. He strengthened exemptions that mean records related to the Royal Family, international relations, national security, defense, government policy and the courts are routinely refused. read more>>>

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