Didn’t President Obama promise that his administration would be the most transparent administration in history? Of all of the POTUS’ broken promises that is probably the most nefarious. There are so many examples of how the president has either forgotten, or is intentionally disregarding that promise.
For example there was the deliberate hiding of the cost of cap and trade, or hiding the middle class tax hikes in the Obamacare bill, not letting his Czars testify before congress, the stonewalling by Eric Holder regarding the voter intimidation by the black panthers, and most recently trying to invoke executive privilege to stop social secretary Desiree Rogers from testifying about Gate-Crasher-gate.
So its not surprising that President Obama is having a conference on transparency in government, and keeping it secret.
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It’s hardly the image of transparency the Obama administration wants to project: A workshop on government openness is closed to the public.
The event Monday for federal employees is a fitting symbol of President Barack Obama’s uneven record so far on the Freedom of Information Act, a big part of keeping his campaign promise to make his administration the most transparent ever. As Obama’s first year in office ends, the government’s actions when the public and press seek information are not yet matching up with the president’s words.
“The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails,” Obama told government offices on his first full day as president. “The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears.”
Obama scored points on his pledge by requiring the release of detailed information about $787 billion in economic stimulus spending. It’s now available on a Web site http://www.recovery.gov.
Of course we have since found out that some of the data on recovery.gov is bogus, like those extra Congressional districts or those phony jobs created/saved numbers. And of course there are provisions in the stimulus bill that have nothing to do with a stimulus, like the Obamacare “death panels.”
...on some important issues, his administration produced information only after government watchdogs and reporters spent weeks or months pressing, in some cases suing.
Those include what cars people were buying using the $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program (it turned out the most frequent trades involved pickups for pickups with only slightly better gas mileage); how many times airplanes have collided with birds (a lot); whether lobbyists and donors meet with the Obama White House (they do); rules about the interrogation of terror suspects (the FBI and CIA disagreed over what was permitted); and who was speaking in private with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (he has close relationships with a cadre of Wall Street executives whose multibillion-dollar companies survived the economic crisis with his help).
The Federal Aviation Administration wouldn’t turn over letters and e-mails among FAA officials about reporters’ efforts to learn more about planes that crash into birds.
People who routinely request government records said they don’t see much progress on Obama’s transparency pledge.
“It’s either smoke and mirrors or it was done for the media,” said Jeff Stachewicz, founder of Washington-based FOIA Group Inc., which files hundreds of requests every month across the government on behalf of companies, law firms and news organizations. “This administration, when it wants something done, there are no excuses. You just don’t see a big movement toward transparency.”
The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group, said it filed 45 requests for records since Obama became president, and that agencies such as NASA and the Energy Department have been mostly cooperative in the spirit of Obama’s promises. But the FBI and Justice Department? Not so much, said Nate Cardozo, working for the foundation on a project to expose new government surveillance technologies.
Not quite because it has come to light that NASA is ignoring freedom of information requests, so they can hide the raw data on climate change.
The FBI resisted turning over copies of reports to a White House intelligence oversight board about possible bureau legal violations. The FBI said it’s so far behind reviewing other, unrelated requests that it can’t turn over the reports until May 2014.
“This administration started with a bang, saying this was going to be a new day, and we had really high expectations,” Cardozo said. “We haven’t seen much of a change. The Justice Department said there would be a stronger presumption in favor of disclosure, but that hasn’t been the case.”
Obama has approved startup money for a new office taking part in Monday’s closed conference, the Office of Government Information Services. It was created to resolve disputes involving people who ask for records and government agencies. But as evidenced by the open-records event behind closed doors, there is a long way to go.
“We’d like to know, when they’re training agencies, are they telling them the same thing they’re saying in public, that they’re committed to making the Freedom of Information Act work well and make sure that agencies are releasing information whenever possible while protecting important issues like individual privacy and national security,” said Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, of which The Associated Press is a member.
But this is the Obama Administration, they don’t believe in transparency.
The director of the new Office of Government Information Services, Miriam Nisbet, said the event was closed to make sure there would be room for all the government employees attending.
And there is a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell you.