This editorial appeared in The Fresno Bee.
Eight years of stultifying secrecy by the Bush administration was swept away by President Obama on his first day in office, when he issued a memo ordering federal agencies to be more forthcoming with information when the public asks for it.
It's a much-needed step toward restoring citizens' trust in their government.
Shortly after 9-11, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered government agencies to pull back from public access to information, promising to defend any government employee who said "no" to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Not surprisingly, the number of outright denials of such requests ballooned in the Bush years.
Obama turned that policy around 180 degrees Wednesday, ordering agencies to err on the side of disclosure.
The move should prove popular. A poll last March during the annual Sunshine Week found that 74% of Americans believed the federal government was too secretive. That was up a dozen points from just two years earlier.
Obama made it clear he means to reverse that trend. He called the FOIA "the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government," and quoted former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who once bluntly opined that sunlight is the "best of disinfectants."
To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.