Freedom of Information Attorney Attacks Montana’s New ‘Top Secret’ Info Rules
Montana State agencies are now required to file information under one of four categories: Public, Confidential, Secret or Top Secret. But the new filing system has received blowback from freedom of Information attorney Mike Meloy, who has bend handling FOIA requests in Montana for 40 years. He says the new requirement is not congruent with the Montana Constitution.
"The method that they use is more like the military method of classifying information than it is the existing constitutional statutory framework," says Meloy. "In Montana access to documents is governed by the Constitution."
Meloy says that there is only one reason something should be withheld from the public.
"The only exception is when the right of privacy clearly exceeds the merits of public disclose," says Meloy. "These new regulations permit someone who stores state documents to attach some sort of a classification to them that would render them inaccessible to the public."
Montana Chief Information Security Officer Lynne Pizzini told the Associated Press “the policy does not conflict with public records laws.” When asked for a response, Meloy says Pizzini wouldn’t know, because she’s “not a lawyer.”