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Freedom of Information
Thu August 22, 2013
Legislator Walks Back Michael Moore Comment, Stands By Vote
A big question since the massacre at Sandy Hook is how much, if any, information from the crime scene should be released to the public. That debate continues. The question at hand isn't should the state have passed a bipartisan, sweeping new law to exempt crime scene evidence from public disclosure. The question is should it have done so in secret, at the end of the legislative session, without public hearing.
Earlier this week, there was a hearing of a state task force on victim privacy and public information. Republican State Sen. Len Fasano said lawmakers had to act quickly because filmmaker Michael Moore wanted pictures and reports from Sandy Hook.
"It wasn't the wishes to do this secretly. And it wasn't the wishes not to have public hearing. It's just that the request came in towards the end of the session. There was no opportunity to do anything about it. No one even thought about this issue."
But, before the vote was taken, Moore said he wouldn't want to use pictures without parents' permission. And, as far as the governor's office is concerned, no such request was made.
Now, Fasano is walking things back a bit. He says whether Moore filed a request or not is irrelevant. What matters, Fasano says, is that the legislature had to act quickly before the session ended to prevent the release of the photos and other information.
"It brought the issue to light and the issue was, should we wait until the next session to deal with it, or do we have to deal with it now? And the answer is -- we have to deal with it now...And just the hint that someone would ask for them is enough to get us to act."
James Smith is the president of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information. He agrees with Fasano on one point. It's irrelevant whether Moore filed a request for the Sandy Hook pictures and records. He says neither is a good justification for a secretive legislative process for an unwise law.
"Ever since the Newtown massacre, it's been an issue on how much is going to be released. And the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information's position...is that we should not be hiding information on crimes from the American people."
The task force is due to report back to the legislature by Jan. 1.
Freedom of Information