North Carolina Senator Richard Barr wants to create a new agency for combatting infectious diseases — and make it more secretive than the CIA.

Barr&rsqu;s bill to create a “Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency” includes a provision giving the new body full exemption from the US Freedom of Information Act.

Opponants point out that no other US government organisation — not even the CIA or National Security Agency — enjoys this sort of blanket exemption to public oversight and transparency.

Surely the national security exemption to the FOIA should be suffient to protect any sensitive information this body would hold. If it’s good enough for the Pentagon, it must be good enough for a medical research institute.

The recent FEMA debacle in New Orleans shows how important it is that organisations tasked with responding to potential disasters are transparent and accountable.

(Hot Tip: Rob Schumacher)