Government responsibility

Six years down the line, Moss then began to start the task of getting his landmark bill passed, the 1966 Freedom of Information Act (Doyle, 2001). But the process of getting his bill passed was no easy task, nor did it take a short amount of time for him to do so. The bill endured rough sailing from Moss’ peers in the House, who caved in every time that the White House would send feelers down Capitol Hill’s way (Source Watch, 2008). The acts of the powers in Congress did manage to maim the Moss bill (Source Watch, 2008).

Another man instrumental in the battle to get the FOIA passed was the late Sam Archibald (Word Press, 2008). Archibald was a former beat reporter for the California newspaper Sacramento Bee (Word Press, 2008). Leaving his political beat writing to stand alongside Moss in 1956, Archibald had authored the language of the FOIA (Word Press, 2008). Archibald then endured with Moss the twelve years before the bill could be passed in 1966 (Word Press, 2008).

Even with the crippled bill, the efforts of a handful of newspaper editors who made last-minute pleas with Johnson over the phone finally swayed him to sign the bill (Moyers, 2002). After criticizing the bill, he then affixed his signature on the law, and then basically went out taking the acclaim for signing it (Moyers, 2002). How could editors sway the President? Because the law’s primary purpose was for newspaper practitioners to obtain information from government authorities who sometimes denied access to them simply for the reason that they hold the power to do so (Word Press, 2008).

But was there a singular event in history that would seem to justify this reluctance of government, and the people’s voicing out their support in, releasing facts about the conducts of the government? History would point us to the direction of the infamous Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration (Encarta, 2008). To recall, the Watergate scandal occurred when the Democratic Party’s campaign base in Washington, D. C. , on the 17th of June, 1972 (Encarta, 2008).

But it wasn’t the break that started the storm that would result in the resignation of a United States Chief Executive (Encarta, 2008). White House adjutant Alexander Butterfield told the Senate Select committee on Presidential Activities, chaired by North Carolina Senator Sam Ervin, that President Nixon had mandated that all conversations in the White House were to be taped (Encarta, 2008). This was for the purpose of confirming anything that was said to the President or any conversation by the President (Encarta, 2008).

Nixon refused to release the tapes, saying that these contained matters on national security (Encarta, 2008). After a long legal tussle, the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, ruled that Nixon must hand over the tapes (Encarta, 2008). In the ensuing investigation, Nixon was proven to have ordered the FBI to halt its inquiry into the Watergate issue (Encarta, 2008). He was also proven to have direct hand in the cover-up of his government’s involvement in the issue (Encarta, 2008).

The right to information is a building block of government responsibility and the basis for the democratic system of government (Answers, 2008). This right, as interpreted in the Constitution’s First Amendment, enables the people to have access to pertinent information kept by the government (Answers, 2008). The right to free speech gets its foundation from this avenue for information, allowing the citizenry to locate instances of government improprieties and neglect (Answers, 2008).