Mr. John W. Madigan
Tribune Company
435 N. Michigan Avenue
Suite 1800
Chicago, IL 60611

Dear Mr. Madigan:

Since some of your papers do investigative reporting, you have an interest in seeing that the Freedom of Information Act remains a useful tool. Documents formerly released routinely are now often withheld pending submission of an FOIA request, which may not be honored promptly unless the requester sues. 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 protests from the media. I urge you to discuss it with your colleagues, and let the A.G. know that the FOIA should be strengthened, not eroded.