Correction to This Article
The first brief incorrectly says that Freedom of Information Act legislation signed by President Bush aims to reverse an order by former attorney general John Ashcroft instructing agencies to lean against releasing information when there is uncertainty about how doing so would affect national security. A House draft version of the bill explicitly reversed Ashcroft's order, but that language was stripped out before it passed Congress.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Bush Signs Law Bolstering Freedom of Information Act

CRAWFORD, Tex. -- President Bush signed a bill Monday aimed at giving the public and the media greater access to information about what the government is doing.

The new law toughens the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in the first such makeover to the signature public-access law in a decade.

The legislation creates a system for the media and the public to track the status of their FOIA requests. It establishes a hotline for all federal agencies to deal with problems and an ombudsman to provide an alternative to litigation in disclosure disputes.

The law also restores a presumption of a standard that orders government agencies to release information on request unless there is a finding that disclosure could do harm.

Agencies will be required to meet a 20-day deadline for responding to FOIA requests. Nonproprietary information held by government contractors also will be subject to the law.

The legislation is aimed at reversing an order by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He instructed agencies to lean against releasing information when there is uncertainty about how doing so would affect national security.

Would-Be Assassin of Ford Is Released From Prison

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sara Jane Moore, who took a shot at President Gerald R. Ford in a 1975 assassination attempt, was released from prison Monday.

Moore, 77, had served about 30 years of a life sentence when she was released from the federal prison in Dublin, east of San Francisco, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said.

She was 40 feet away from Ford outside a hotel in San Francisco when she fired a shot at him on Sept. 22, 1975. As she raised her .38-caliber revolver, Oliver Sipple, a former Marine standing next to her, pushed her arm as the gun went off, and the bullet flew over Ford's head by several feet. Seventeen days earlier, Secret Service agents had wrestled a pistol away from Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme during a Ford appearance in Sacramento.

In recent interviews, Moore said she regrets her actions, saying she was blinded by her radical political views.

5 Killed in Ohio Interstate Crash

TOLEDO -- The driver of a pickup truck that went the wrong way on an interstate and collided with a minivan, killing five people, failed a sobriety test and was charged with aggravated vehicular homicide, authorities said. Four people were injured in the accident, including the pickup driver, Michael Gagnon, 24, of Adrian, Mich. Tests showed that his blood-alcohol level was .254, more than three times Ohio's legal limit of .08. The accident occurred in the southbound lanes of Interstate 280 near the Interstate 75 interchange.

Judge Stays on Courthouse Shooting Case

ATLANTA -- The judge presiding over the murder trial of a man accused in a deadly 2005 shooting spree that began in a courtroom refused to step down from the case. Superior Court Judge Hilton Fuller denied a prosecution request to disqualify himself from the Brian Nichols case. District Attorney Paul Howard argued that Fuller has violated ethics rules by indefinitely delaying Nichols's trial.

-- From News Services

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