Mr. Louis D. Boccardi
President and CEO
Associated Press
50 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020

Dear Mr. Boccardi:

Since the AP still does investigative reporting, you have an interest in seeing that the Freedom of Information Act remains a useful tool for journalists. Documents formerly released routinely are now often withheld pending submission of an FOIA request. The request may not be honored promptly unless the requester sues, and even that does not assure prompt release. On Oct. 12, the attorney general sent a message that encourages federal agencies to reject FOIA requests on grounds of national security and law enforcement by promising support from the Justice Department. Those grounds have been abused routinely to reject legitimate FOIA requests, in the past. Mr. Ashcroft's message is likely to encourage greater abuse, without benefitting national security or law enforcement. This has attracted little attention and no media protests. I urge you to discuss it with your colleagues, and let the A.G. know that the FOIA should be strengthened, not eroded.