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FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT OVERSIGHT
WEDNESDAY, JULY 15, 1981
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9:45 a.m., in room 2203, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Glenn English (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Glenn English, Ted Weiss, John Conyers, Jr., Thomas N. Kindness, and John N. Erlenborn.
Also present: Representative Elliott H. Levitas.
Staff present: Robert Gellman, counsel; Euphon Metzger, clerk; and John J. Parisi, minority professional staff, Committee on Government Operations.
Mr. ENGLISH. The subcommittee will come to order.
Today we begin the second of the 3 days of general oversight hearings on the Freedom of Information Act. Yesterday we had a number of representatives from the press giving us their statements with regard to the Freedom of Information Act.
Today we will hear from representatives of the Justice Department as well as the business community. I would like to say at this point that, as chairman of the committee, I have offered the hand of friendship to the administration and particularly the Justice Department in dealing with specific problems that may exist within the Freedom of Information Act.
The ground rules that have been laid down by myself were that so long as specific issues were identified, so long as particular problems were shown and proven to this committee, that I felt the chances were excellent that any difficulties could be remedied.
As I stated yesterday, the only problem I think that this committee will have in dealing with potential problems of the Freedom of Information Act comes in the area of broad generalities. It is in this area that I don't believe this committee will have much in the way of sympathy.
So with that, today we will hear from the Justice Department on behalf of the administration and hopefully gain some insight as to the approach that the administration will follow from this point on.
STATEMENT OF CHARLES RENFREW, FORMER FEDERAL
JUDGE AND FORMER DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL Mr. RENFREW. Mr. Chairman, could I just make a slight correction. I am not appearing here as a representative of the Depart
AND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS S
Office Building, Hon.
Gellman, counsel; Eu
second of the 3 days a tives from the press giv. he Freedom of Information from representatives of t_ siness community. I would
of the committee, I have
with specific problems
proven to this committe-
DEPUTY ATTORNEY GEN
any difficulties coul
This time, have any
mment speamendments -e. omprehensive hin the next 2
OF INFORMATION ACT OVERSIGHT
it in which it is in its review of
WEDNESDAY, JULY 15, 1981
of the act fully s subject by this e of Congress and
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
net, pursuant to notice, at 9:45 a.m., in room Office Building, Hon. Glenn English (chairives Glenn English, Ted Weiss, John ConGellman, counsel; Euphon Metzger, clerk; city professional staff, Committee on Govnmittee will come to order. and of the 3 days of general oversight f Information Act. Yesterday we had a from the press giving us their state'epresentatives of the Justice Departommunity. I would like to say at this ! committee, I have offered the hand ration and particularly the Justice specific problems that may exist Pen laid down by myself were that identified, so long as particular
Follow from this point VEY GENERAL DRMER FEDERAL edom of Information Act. ion Act
basic purpose and fully as possible of ect the integrity and
the best is often the administration is not ceedom of Information
dness, and John N. Erlenborn.
gnificant problems with of the Freedom of Inforcive attention.
appear from our study to urrent act which appear to and most clearly in need of
e fully in my written state
to this committee, that I felt the tial problems of the Freedom of of broad generalities. It is in zmittee will have much in the Ir gain some insight as to the Justice Department on
ieve that the current requireinal law enforcement agencies tigatory abilities of those ageniinistrative burdens, and may, in public interest. y units within the Department of is of requests for law enforcement 15,000 requests yearly and the DEA
roblem I think
40 percent of its requests are from :rcent are from individuals whom the nnected with criminal drug activities.
FBI constitute a lesser percentage of t, but a greater absolute number, over
with criminal activities have made exten
of Information Act to obtain investigatory ves or to seek information concerning onjovernment informants, or Government law es.
ment of Justice. I was with the Carter administration and I wish I could say I was with the Department but that is not the case.
I am here as a former Federal judge and former Deputy Attorney General to share my limited perspective about the Freedom of Information Act in areas that we found in the Carter administration that we think should be considered by this subcommittee.
Mr. ENGLISH. Mr. Renfrew, I was going to introduce Mr. Rose who is with the Justice Department and who I understand will present a statement on behalf of the administration and the Justice Department. It is my understanding you would respond to questions and that you do not have a statement of your own. Is that correct?
Mr. RENFREW. I did not have a prepared statement because I was in England last week and just came here over the weekend when I was called and asked if I would come to Washington and share the perspectives I have had.
I said I would be delighted to do so. I came in last night. I do have some perspectives but I do not have a prepared statement.
Mr. ENGLISH. We will keep that in mind.
We have Mr. Jonathan Rose, Assistant Attorney General for Legal Policy for the Department of Justice. We asked that the Justice Department represent all agencies within the Federal Government in presenting the administration's point of view with regard to potential changes in the Freedom of Information Act.
Mr. Rose, I want to welcome you to the subcommittee and I look forward to receiving your testimony. If you would care to summarize we would be happy to include your full written text, without objection.
STATEMENT OF JONATHAN C. ROSE, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY
GENERAL, OFFICE OF LEGAL POLICY, DEPARTMENT OF JUS-
I was going to ask you for permission to do that. I do have a longer statement which I have submitted to the reporter for the record.
Certainly I am pleased to appear before you today to explain the current views of the Justice Department concerning the Freedom of Information Act, and Hon. Charles Renfrew who served in the Carter administration as Deputy Attorney General, needs no further introduction to you.
The need for the revision of the Freedom of Information Act has been under active study by the Department since December of 1978. Judge Renfrew can comment more specifically on the review of the act and the proposals developed by the Justice Department during the Carter administration.
At the request of the present Attorney General, the Department of Justice recently solicited comments from all Government agencies on the operation of the Freedom of Information Act and requested suggestions on how the act could be improved.
The Department is in the process of analyzing the comments as they are received and drafting possible amendments based on these comments and on the extensive work which was done on this matter by the previous administration.