Transparency in Government

The mere fact that you have the legal authority…does not mean that you should always use it…Information will not be withheld just because I say so…Let me say it as simply as I can: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this Presidency.

  • President Obama, 2009

This is the most transparent administration in history. I can document that this is the case. Every visitor that comes into the White House is now part of the public record. Every law we pass and every rule we implement we put online for everyone to see.

White House office to delete its FOIA regulations

The White House is removing a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act, making official a policy under Presidents Bush and Obama to reject requests for records to that office.

The White House said the cleanup of FOIA regulations is consistent with court rulings that hold that the office is not subject to the transparency law. The office handles, among other things, White House record-keeping duties like the archiving of e-mails.

Sometimes the post just writes itself.

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  1. Hal_10000

    Don’t you understand? Transparency is for us, not for the government. We’re supposed to let them read every e-mail and listen to every call but what they do is important, so we can’t hear any of it.

    Clearly, Clinton and Obama and birds of a feather.

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  2. CM

    Clearly, Clinton and Obama and birds of a feather.

    And Bush, if you read the USA Today link:

    “This is an office that operated under the FOIA for 30 years, and when it became politically inconvenient, they decided they weren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act any more,” said Tom Fitton of the conservative Judicial Watch.
    That happened late in the Bush administration, when CREW sued over e-mails deleted by the White House — as many as 22 million of them, by one accounting. The White House at first began to comply with that request, but then reversed course.
    “The government made an argument in an effort to throw everything and the kitchen sink into the lawsuit in order to stop the archiving of White House e-mails,” said Tom Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, which has used similar requests to shed light on foreign policy decisions.

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  3. CM

    In upholding a ruling last year by a federal judge, the appeals court found that the White House does not have to make public internal documents examining the potential disappearance of emails during the Bush administration.The plaintiff, the estimable Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, had filed a lawsuit in 2007 seeking to force the Office of Administration (OA) to comply with a FOIA request for documents related to retention (or lack thereof) of e-mails between 2001 and 2005, a period that included the Iraq war.From its inception in 1977, OA functioned consistently as an agency subject to the FOIA, adopting comprehensive FOIA regulations and processing hundreds of FOIA requests. Then the Bush administration, in the midst of litigating a FOIA request from CREW seeking documentation of the millions of missing White House emails, decided OA no longer is an agency.The administration had been paying attention to broader trends in the jurisprudence of FOIA, which has seen a host of judicial interpretations gradually narrowing the law’s reach, and it shrewdly sensed that the law was now on its side. Not the least of these precedents was a 1980 Supreme Court decision holding that the FOIA does not extend “to the President’s immediate personal staff or units in the Executive Office [of the President] whose sole function is to advise and assist the President.”Leaning on that decision as well as a host of more narrow lower federal court decisions, the three-judge panel was on firm legal footing in ruling that the Office of Administration’s work “is directly related to the operational and administrative support of the work of the President” and his staff.

    http://jurist.org/hotline/2009/05/congress-should-make-white-house-office.php

    The point remains of course that Obama is just a politician above all else and will ultimately act like any other politician no matter what words come out of his mouth.

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  4. Xetrov *

    BAM

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration set a new record again for more often than ever censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

    The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn’t find documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.

    It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged.

    Its backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000. It also cut by 375, or about 9 percent, the number of full-time employees across government paid to look for records. That was the fewest number of employees working on the issue in five years.

    1 in 3 denials did not conform to the law? In other words, it was illegal for the Federal Government to withhold the information, but they tried anyway. Wow. Pretty sure the left would have caused enough hullabaloo under Bush to force his resignation using that stat alone.

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  5. CM

    That’s appalling. It’s not even as though they were targeted with an avalanche of requests specifically designed to overwhelm them (ala Steve McIntyre’s orchestrated campaign against the Climatic Research Unit).

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