Attorney General John Ashcroft has issued a new statement requesting that federal agencies resist giving out Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) information whenever they have legal grounds to do so. This new statement takes the place of a 1993 memorandum from Attorney General Janet Reno which encouraged disclosure of government information through the FOIA unless it was ?reasonably foreseeable that disclosure would be harmful.? Ashcroft?s policy changes the ?foreseeable harm? standard and instructs agencies to withhold information whenever there is a ?sound legal basis? to do so. Insight: One of the tragedies of war is the inevitable increase in government secrecy, which denies citizens access to information which should rightfully be theirs. In the long run this leads to a distrust of government and a lack of interest in voting and other forms of political participation. Our Cold War experiences attest that these tighter security measures tend to stay in place long after the conflict has ended.

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