Historical Highlights

The Freedom of Information Act

July 04, 1966
The Freedom of Information Act Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object
A former state legislator, Representative John E. Moss of California served 12 terms in the U.S. House of Representatives.
On this date, the 11-year crusade of Representative John E. Moss of California became the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which created a “clear right” for the public and press to inspect federal executive records. In 1954, Moss campaigned for an investigation into impediments to accessing government information. Moss soon took the helm of the Committee on Government Operations’ Foreign Operations and Government Subcommittee. Hearings followed exposing and documenting government secrecy. Passage of the freedom of information bill required a delicate balancing act of private negotiation and public openness. The act enjoyed bi-partisan support; Representative Donald Rumsfeld of Illinois, who served on Moss’s subcommittee, co-sponsored the legislation. On June 20, 1966, Moss eloquently made his case for its passage. “Our system of government is based on the participation of the governed, and as our population grows in numbers it is essential that it also grow in knowledge and understanding,” Moss said. “We must remove every barrier to information about—and understanding of—government activities consistent with our security if the American public is to be adequately equipped to fulfill the ever more demanding role of responsible citizenship.” The House passed the bill, 307 to 0.

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