Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

States Clammed Up After 9/11

by John Gramlich, Staff Writer


The 2001 terrorist attacks led every state but South Dakota to restrict access to information deemed critical to homeland security — from architectural blueprints to emergency evacuation routes, according to a comprehensive, state-by-state study of post-9/11 changes to open-government laws.

Wary of terrorists, state lawmakers closed government meetings previously open to the public, denied residents access to disaster-response plans and concealed documents on mass-transit systems, energy companies and research laboratories, according to the findings.

Nationwide, states have enacted scores of restrictions since Sept. 11, 2001, according to the congressionally funded study, “State Open Government Law and Practice in a Post 9/11 World,” formally released Thursday (Nov. 15) by the Center for Terrorism Law based at St. Mary’s University in Texas.

Most of the restrictions cover information on critical infrastructure and cyber security, while as few as half the states have restricted access to documents relating to public health and terror investigations.

South Dakota passed legislation creating a state homeland security agency. But it is the only state not to restrict access to six categories of information outlined in the study.

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