Saturday, August 27, 2005

Hide and Seekers

Via beSpacific, I discovered the database of the Fugitive & Electronic-Only Documents Committee of the American Association of Law Libraries, Government Documents Special Interest Section. The purpose of the Committee is to:
  1. Identify and report to GPO fugitive and electronic-only U.S. federal documents on law and policy. A "fugitive document" is defined as a U.S. federal publication that, according to U.S. Code Title 44, should be distributed to libraries through the Federal Depository Library Program, but that hasn’t been cataloged or distributed by GPO. An "electronic-only" document is defined as an electronic U.S. federal publication that GPO has cataloged and assigned a Persistent URL, but that GPO will not distribute to depository libraries in tangible format.

  2. List fugitive, electronic-only, and tangibly-distributed U.S. federal documents on law and policy on the GD-SIS Website.

  3. Facilitate hard copy publication of some of these documents.
Some of the publications look too incredibly pedantic and dull to ever be the focus of an intentional attempt at suppression for political purposes (e.g., "Frequently Asked Questions About Copyright : A template for the Promotion and Awareness Among CENDI Agency Staff"). These documents are probably lost for the same reason that I can't find my glasses once or twice a week--I simply forgot where I put them.

Other documents, however, may have potential political bombshells hidden in them (e.g., "Privacy Office Report to Congress, April 2003-June 2004," Department of Homeland Security. Privacy Office) and its possible that they have been lost in order to keep the information contained therein from the public.

Although I can't say for certain, even a innocuous-sounding title such as the report "Process Assessment Report for a Dialogue on Impacts of Anthropogenic Noise on Marine Mammals" by the Marine Mammal Commission could fall within this category. (The Navy has been trying to push certain types of new sonar systems that allegedly pose the possibility of serious harm to marine mammals. James Taylor, Pierce Brosnan, and Jean-Michel Cousteau are on the story.)

In any event, its heartening to know that someone is keeping track.

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