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Bush Administration Pushes for Secrecy in Transportation
At the behest of the Bush administration, Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe inserted language into a multi-billion dollar transportation bill (H.R. 3550) that would grant the government new authority to withhold transportation information that it considers to be "sensitive security information."
This broad language could obscure from the public almost any information related to transportation, including environmental impacts of oil spills, or nuclear waste shipment routes. In addition, the provisions would override state and local open records laws, restrict public input on transportation projects, and greatly reduce public oversight of transportation security.
Since taking office, the Bush administration has removed public information from agency websites, issued executive orders that empower agencies to withhold public information, and drafted other legislation that allows companies to hide basic health and safety information. All of these changes go well beyond classification procedures that for years have protected legitimate government secrets.
The transportation bill is now under negotiation to work out differences between the versions that passed the House and Senate. Some 20 Senators and 50 Representatives must agree on final passage before the bill goes to the President's desk. Congress can still delete the secrecy provision.