Terry Anderson plans to press forward in his quest to obtain
government records about his captors and American agents sp.
TERRY ANDERSON, WHO survived nearly seven years in captivity by terrorists and came home to run into a stone wall in attempting to get government information on his kidnapping, vowed to pursue his quest under the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA).
Speaking in Oakland at the recent first annual California First Amendment Assembly, the former Associated Press chief Middle East correspondent said he had nothing but frustration to show for his efforts to obtain documents about his captors and American agents from 11 federal agencies, including the CIA. The government, Anderson lamented, has insisted on his kidnappers' right to privacy.
He said he was forced to write his book on his incarceration, The Den of Lions, without help from federal records. Still, he said, he plans to pursue his suit against the government as a matter of principle, as well as a search for the truth.
"I am a loyal American," Anderson stated. "I don't have to know the sensitive secrets or our agents' names, and I don't want to know. I know pretty well what the government did and didn't do. What I want is to understand why."
More than 300 journalists, attorneys, public officials and private citizens gathered for the meeting whose major sponsor was the California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC).
Among the resolutions adopted by the Assembly was one that termed Anderson's struggle as "sadly more typical than unique, astounding only in its evidence of callous disregard by our government."
It called for a stop to the "mockery of Terry Anderson" and "an end to the bureaucracy's cold war against the
Another resolution urged that the California Constitution be amended to include freedom of information protections.
Former California Congressman John Moss was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his leadership in the passage of the FoIA in 1966.
In accepting the award, Moss, 83, warned the audience of a gradual erosion of freedom in the U.S., commenting: "When we lose our liberties, it does not happen in one dramatic moment but gradually and quietly."
The Lesher Newspapers in the San Francisco East Bay Area were designated as a "First Amendment Trailblazer" for their numerous lawsuits to open public records and their investigative series on local governments' attempts to block public knowledge of public business.
At a pre-Assembly meeting, the CFAC elected Dan Day, AP bureau chief in San Francisco, to succeed Bruce B. Brugmann as president.
Brugmann, editor and publisher of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and chair of the committee that planned the Assembly, described the gathering as "the premier event of its kind in the country," establishing the CFAC as "the national model for the state-by-state struggle to defend the rights to find out, show up and speak out."
Co-sponsors of the event were the Freedom Forum's Pacific Coast Center, the First Amendment Project, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
?(Terry Anderson) [Photo]
By: M.L. Stein Former Associated Press chief Middle East correspondent