The library and research world heaved a collective sigh of disbelief and disappointment when the National Technical Information Service abruptly announced late last year that World News Connection (nee [[Foreign Broadcast Information Service]]) would cease operation on December 31, 2013. There were many letters requesting that the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) — which runs the [[Open Source Center]], the publisher of World News Connection — reconsider his rash decision. The most prominent was the December 18, 2013 letter written by the National Coalition for History and sixteen other organizations.
Today, the American Library Association (ALA) got on the record in support of bringing back World News Connection. The ALA’s Washington Office has written to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, also asking him to reconsider.
January 22, 2014
The Honorable James Clapper
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Washington, DC 20511
Dear General Clapper:
The American Library Association (ALA) respectfully requests that you reconsider the decision to discontinue distribution of the Open Source Center’s translations of foreign news media. The National Technical Information Office’s (NTIS) redistribution of the World News Connection database has been a staple for researchers of all types since its inception in the 1940s.
As you have already heard from the National Coalition for History and the other sixteen organizations which cosigned the December 18th letter, World News Connection plays a vital role in the work of many – historians, public policy experts, students, researchers, archivists, political scientists, journalists, government officials, and the average citizen interested in knowing more about the world around her.
As a product of a U.S. government agency – the Open Source Center – these translations have already been paid for by the citizens of this country. Making them publically available via NTIS is just the sort of open government initiative envisioned by the Second Open Government National Action Plan released on December 6. While not specifically a “foreign surveillance activity” distribution of the World News Connection translations falls well within the stated goal to “make public as much information as possible about certain sensitive intelligence collection programs.” Discontinuing WNC when the Obama administration is calling for increased declassification and transparency in foreign surveillance activities is counterintuitive at best.
We stand firmly with our colleagues in asking that this restrictive “closed government” decision be reversed and the WNC translations again be made available to the public via NTIS. Thank you for your consideration.
Emily Sheketoff, Executive Director
American Library Association Washington Office
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