The Center for Grassroots Oversight

This page can be viewed at http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a010974fordfoia


Context of 'January 1974 - September 1974: Freedom of Information Act Amendments Challenged by White House'

This is a scalable context timeline. It contains events related to the event January 1974 - September 1974: Freedom of Information Act Amendments Challenged by White House. You can narrow or broaden the context of this timeline by adjusting the zoom level. The lower the scale, the more relevant the items on average will be, while the higher the scale, the less relevant the items, on average, will be.

Representatives William Moorhead (D-PA) and Frank Horton (R-NY) cosponsor a series of amendments designed to improve the effectiveness of the 1966 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The law is designed to make it easier for journalists, researchers, and citizens to see government records, but in practice the law is cumbersome: agencies have little impetus to produce documents in a timely manner, charge exorbitant fees for searching and copying documents, and too often battle FOIA requests in court. With Watergate fresh in legislators’ minds, the amendments to FOIA are welcome changes. The amendments expand the federal agencies covered, and mandate expediting of document and record requests. But as the bill nears final passage, senior officials of the Ford White House are mobilizing to challenge it. The CIA, Defense and Treasury Departments, Civil Service, and many on President Ford’s staff, including Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney, all urge a veto. Most bothersome is the provision that a court can review a federal decision not to release a document requested under FOIA. Ford will veto the bill, but Congress will override the vetoes (see November 20, 1974). (Dubose and Bernstein 2006, pp. 29-30)

President Ford, weighing whether or not to sign into law a set of amendments strengthening the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA—see January 1974 - September 1974), is given a memo by aide Ken Cole. In it, Cole writes: “There is little question that the legislation is bad on the merits, the real question is whether opposing it is important enough to face the political consequences. Obviously, there is a significant political disadvantage to vetoing a Freedom of Information bill, especially just before an election, when your administration’s theme is one of openness and candor.” (Lopez et al. 11/23/2004) Ford will veto the bill, but Congress will override his veto (see November 20-21, 1974).

Both houses of Congress vote to override President Ford’s veto of the Freedom of Information Act amendments passed by Congress (see January 1974 - September 1974). (Dubose and Bernstein 2006, pp. 30)


Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike