The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Citizens have right to know

Congress enacted the Freedom of Information Act in 1966 to allow the American public access to government records.

With a written order, United States agencies are required to release requested records unless the records can be lawfully withheld under one of nine exemptions in the FOIA.

Congress created this act in the belief that people have “the right to know.”

Thankfully, TCC generally has been cooperative and open about its actions and processes made in the college community. Nearly every time this paper has asked for information from the college, TCC officials have been quick to respond.

In the fall, The Collegian had to file an open records request for information about the arrest of a TCC faculty member, but the paper rarely has to do so.

However, the FOIA isn’t solely for journalists to use to help cover a more in-depth story or report on news stories. This request can be made by anyone to help reduce confusion in the public.

It’s important for the public to judge for themselves by facts from documented situations.

The FOIA was used after Hurricane Katrina. Much of the information and analysis gathered about the disaster’s aftermath and FEMA’s relationship with it was released to the public because of the FOIA.

It helped The Associated Press gather a videotaping of President Bush touching on the weakness of the levees before Katrina hit, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in March 2006.

Videos of the Sept. 11 attack on the Pentagon were released under the FOIA by the Department of Defense to straighten out confusion in the public eye after theories surfaced about the crash, according to USA Today in May 2006.

The FOIA also helped inform the public about scientific studies, according to The New York Times, the Washington Post and USA Today.

By using the FOIA, the public can help foster or maintain an open government. This will help prevent the government from keeping necessary, “right-to-know” information behind closed doors.

After all, communication is key in any relationship.

This includes the relationship between the American public, the U.S. government and all public entities.

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