The government is the first organization, given its unique powers to use force against citizens, that should be subject to surveillance and transparency. Unfortunately, since it is the government itself that sets the rules, it is usually the last. Following in the tradition of a Congress that exempts itself form most of its workplace regulation, comes the new financial bill which apparently exempts the SEC from most public scrutiny
Under a little-noticed provision of the recently passed financial-reform legislation, the Securities and Exchange Commission no longer has to comply with virtually all requests for information releases from the public, including those filed under the Freedom of Information Act.
The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." Given that the SEC is a regulatory body, the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.
That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets. Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would "increase transparency in financial dealings."
Apparently the children of the sixties, who once pushed for the Freedom of Information Act as a check to those in power, now are rolling it back once they are in power themselves.