Transparency News 9/3/14

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

State and Local Stories

In the year since John Geer was fatally shot by a Fairfax County police officer, his family has struggled to cope with the sudden loss. His younger daughter, now 14, cried for weeks after the Aug. 29, 2013, incident. Police and federal investigators have not released any information publicly about the case. They have not said whether they think the shooting was justified and have not released the names of the officers involved. “It’s been hell,” said Don Geer, John Geer’s father. “Frustrating to say the least — not knowing anything and having a feeling of helplessness, sadness, anger. Just wondering what’s going on and why nobody would tell us anything.”
Washington Post

National Stories

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant's Office will start charging the public to obtain documents that were previously available free and online. The new charges take effect Sept. 4, according to a notice at the bottom of business license filings web page. The fee amounts are set by state law, not the office. Public document filings for businesses and organizations used to be available for the public to view for free in PDF format online. Those filings included things like articles of incorporation, certificates of dissolution, statements of mergers and statements of changes of officers.

A federal appeals court on Tuesday said photos of a Saudi national imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay who U.S. officials have said intended to be the "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks should stay classified, in the interest of protecting national security. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said the government plausibly showed that releasing images of Mohammed al-Qahtani, who was subject to interrogation techniques that a government official likened to torture, could endanger military personnel, diplomats and workers in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 24 news organizations have asked the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board to investigate whether journalists’ confidential sources and other newsgathering is being compromised by widespread national security surveillance programs. “National security surveillance programs must not be used to circumvent important substantive and procedural protections belonging to journalists and their sources,” the letter stated. “And in order not to chill and deter legal information sharing, enough information must be public that journalists as well as their sources are assured of their abilities to communicate confidentially even in the face of ongoing surveillance programs.”
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

The National Security Agency's collection of data from the phone records of millions of Americans for use in terrorism investigations was defended by a government lawyer Tuesday as the legitimate and constitutional expression of the will of Congress.
New York Law Journal (free registration required)


Can GiftGate happen again in Virginia? In the words of convicted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich:“You betcha!”
Peter Galuszka, Bacon’s Rebellion