Saturday, September 25, 2010

FOIA Briefing Focuses on Presumptions

The ACCG, IAPN and PNG have filed their initial brief in the FOIA matter pending before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Significantly, certain former CPAC members filed their own friend of the court brief in support of the appeal. Hopefully, all this will prompt the leadership of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) to reexamine its policy of treating even CPAC reports (which are supposed to be produced to Congress) as secret, no matter what the Court ultimately decides.

The appellants and the amici argue that more transparency is necessary so the public will have access to information that will allow them to comment more intelligently about State Party requests for import restrictions. There also is the issue of a level playing field. Information ECA treats as secret appears to be readily shared with proponents of restrictions from the archaeological community, either through their contacts with cultural authorities abroad or with ECA personnel.

Ironies abound in all this. ECA argues its decisions treating Cypriot and Chinese artifacts as presumptive Cypriot and Chinese state property should be treated as presumptively secret themselves. At the same time, ECA has set up a new public comment process that ensures that private individuals views are available for all to see.

For more as well as copies of the appellants' and the amici's briefs, see:

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