Regardless of how you feel about the Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve and its stance on jet noise, the group’s victory in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Navy should be considered a victory for all citizens.
The federal lawsuit was dismissed this week after the Navy finally produced the required records and responses to several requests COER made for documents.
The Navy also paid $17,500 in attorney’s fees.
The Freedom of Information Act, commonly known as FOIA, was signed into law of July 4, 1966. It’s a uniquely American law that provides citizens with the right to know the people’s business.
After all, a democracy cannot function with the consent of the governed if the governed doesn’t know what the government is doing.
COER wanted information about the Navy’s testing of groundwater for contaminants, the Growler engines and noise testing.
They weren’t outlandish requests, but even if they were, the Navy and the Department of Defense is required to respond in a manner prescribed by law.
One would think the Navy has people trained to do this.
It’s ironic, perhaps, that the Navy that boasts “the sound of freedom” and fights for freedom should violate a law that guarantees an important freedom.
It’s unfortunate that the Navy forced the group to hire an attorney and go through a lengthy administrative and legal struggle to obtain the response required by law. A citizen without such resources likely wouldn’t have been able to follow through on such actions, which sets up a system in which those with money have more access to the government.
The Founding Fathers, subsequent presidents, philosophers and giants of the Supreme Court have all stressed the importance of having informed citizens.
Quotes are easy to find on the subject from Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison and others.
For example, Patrick Henry said this: “The liberties of people never were, nor ever will be, secure when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them.”