FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1998-10-05

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT
Mark S. Zaid, Esq.
(202) 785-3801

THE JAMES MADISON PROJECT BEGINS OPERATIONS

Washington, D.C.-Based Non-Profit Available To Provide Comment On National Security, Intelligence And Government Accountability Issues

WASHINGTON, D.C. --

The James Madison Project (JMP) has now formally begun operations as a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization with the primary purpose of educating the public on issues relating to intelligence gathering and operations, secrecy policies, national security and government wrongdoing.

One of JMP's first endeavors will be to seek the declassification of the oldest currently classified documents which date back to 1917. As one of its first public education projects, JMP will co-sponsor the forthcoming conference The Bombing of Pan Am 103: Ten Years Later: A Review Of Past And Current Strategies To Combat International Terrorism which will be held at Georgetown University on December 1, 1998. The conference will be open to the general public. Additional information on the conference will be available at a later date.

"Our efforts will focus on ensuring that the immense power of our national security apparatus, which is so vital to protecting our treasured freedoms, are utilized responsibly for the benefit and not the detriment of American citizens," said Mark S. Zaid, JMP's Executive Director. Zaid added that JMP will also strive to minimize the overzealousness of officials to classify information, which history has proven only creates undue suspicions surrounding government activities.

JMP was named in honor of our fourth President, James Madison, who authored the Bill of Rights while serving as a member of the House of Representatives. President Madison had the foresight to note the importance of freedom of information for the continuity and preservation of democracy. In an 1822 letter, Madison described the virtues and principles that now underlie the modern Freedom of Information Act:

"A popular Government without popular information or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives."

JMP was formed by Mark S. Zaid, a Washington, D.C. attorney specializing in national security and government accountability cases, Robert C. Seldon, Executive Director of Project LAW, a Washington, D.C. public interest law firm devoted to advancing and defending the civil rights and liberties of individuals and community groups that are threatened by powerful institutions, Charles Thompson, an investigative reporter formerly with 60 Minutes, and Charles Sanders, a New York entertainment and copyright attorney and professor at New York University, who specializes in intellectual property and constitutional issues concerning the Internet.