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That penalty provision may come under attack for fear that it is going to result in troubling disclosures, but in fact, it is not going to result in disclosures of the information that is most important to be kept protected. It is not going to result in national security information, privacy information, or information that Congress has mandated be secret, such as intelligence sources and methods being disclosed.
In fact, I would liken the impact of that proposed penalty to the impact that automatic declassification in Executive Order 12958 had on the declassification of historical materials. Even though no agency has seen its records automatically declassified, agencies were forced to put in a process that would result in declassification, and the number of declassification decisions went up dramatically. We need a penalty to make clear that FOIA matters.
I would also note that the provision to require the Attorney Gen- eral to notify the Office of Special Counsel of judicial findings of ar- bitrary and capricious agency withholding makes clear that the At- torney General is going to take some action when agency personnel ignore FOIA. It makes this stop being an ‘‘us’’ versus ‘‘them’’ proce- dure and makes clear that it is the government’s obligation and mission to support FOIA.
I am going to close now since I have run out of time, but I have submitted the rest of my comments for the record.
Senator CORNYN. Thank you very much. [The prepared statement of Ms. Fuchs appears as a submission forthe record.]
Senator CORNYN. I would like to note that we have been joined by Senator Kyl, who graciously has agreed to let us use his Sub- committee as the forum to have this hearing, and without his help, we wouldn’t be here today, so I want to say thanks to him for that.
He noted that he has got a pretty hectic schedule today and I would just tell everybody out there and everybody watching that the fact that we don’t have all these seats occupied is no reflection on the importance of this, and frankly, no reflection on how, I think, well the message will be received and addressed, but it just is a fact of life in the United States Senate. It seems like we are always flying by the seat of our pants to some extent.
Chairman KYL. Thank you, and Mr. Chairman, let me just reit- erate that. That is why we have staff and why we have a record. Unfortunately, this is scheduled during the week that we are de- bating the budget and that makes it a very difficult thing. I will only be able to be here a few minutes, but I wanted to specifically come by and acknowledge all of you and welcome you and indicate that I think what Senator Cornyn is doing is very, very important, to take a look at the status of our FOIA laws right now, and to let all of you know that we will want to continue to receive your com- ments and that my staff will try to be in touch with you. So my lack of being here for most of the morning shouldn’t be taken as a lack of interest in the subject. Thank you very much.
Senator CORNYN. Thank you very much, Senator Kyl, and I am sure that is true for all of us. This is just the beginning. This is not the end.
Mr. Susman, we would be glad to hear from you.
09:04 Nov 08, 2005