James Madison Award winners push for public right to know

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

WASHINGTON — The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW); and Meredith Fuchs, general counsel for the nonprofit group National Security Archive, were awarded the American Library Association’s James Madison Award for their work on freedom-of-information issues.

Roberta Stevens, ALA president-elect, presented the awards to CREW and to Fuchs yesterday in the concluding event of National FOI Day 2010, co-sponsored with the First Amendment Center, at the Newseum. (See Fuchs' remarks.)

Accepting the award for CREW was Anne Weismann, chief counsel for the organization. (See Weismann's remarks.)

In announcing the awards, the ALA said that in December 2009, the National Security Archive, CREW, the White House and the National Archives had agreed to a plan resolving a dispute over missing White House e-mails. The National Security Archives had filed a lawsuit 2007 seeking millions of White House e-mails created during the Bush administration. Some 200 million e-mails were later recovered, and the eventual agreement led to a long-term policy on future preservation of such e-mail traffic.

“Thanks to the steadfast commitment of these groups, we can say with confidence that today’s White House is more transparent than ever before and that Americans who ‘want to know’ can rest assured that the answers are there — complete and preserved,” said Camila Alire, current ALA president, in a news release announcing the 2010 recipients.

The award is given to those who have championed, protected and promoted public access to government information and the public's right to know.