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A little secret about Obama’s transparency

The current administration, challenged by the president to be the most open, is now denying more Freedom of Information Act requests than Bush did.

By Andrew Malcolm | Los Angeles Times | March 21, 2010

The Democratic administration of Barack Obama, who denounced his predecessor, George W. Bush, as the most secretive in history, is now denying more Freedom of Information Act requests than the Republican did.

Transparency and openness were so important to the new president that on his first full day in office, he dispatched a much-publicized memo saying: “All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.”

One of the exemptions allowed to deny Freedom of Information requests has been used by the Obama administration 70,779 times in its first year; the same exemption was used 47,395 times in Bush’s final budget year.

An Associated Press examination of 17 major agencies’ handling of FOIA requests found denials 466,872 times, an increase of nearly 50% from the 2008 fiscal year under Bush.

As Ed Morrissey notes on the blog Hot Air, during a time of war and terrorist threats, any government can justify not releasing some sensitive information. And true, Obama had previously been a legislator, not an executive.

But why make such a big campaign deal over a previous administration’s secrecy when you’re going to end up being even more secretive?

On March 16 to mark annual Sunshine Week, designed to promote openness in government, Obama applauded himself by issuing a statement:

“As Sunshine Week begins, I want to applaud everyone who has worked to increase transparency in government and recommit my administration to be the most open and transparent ever.”

However, a new study out March 15 by George Washington University’s National Security Archive finds less than one-third of the 90 federal agencies that process such FOIA requests have made significant changes in their procedures since Obama’s 2009 memo.

So, a day later, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel sent out yet another memo. Since the agencies ignored the memo from the president, they’ll all snap to when the staffer’s note arrives, don’t you think?

Top of the Ticket, The Times’ blog on national politics ( ticket), is a blend of commentary, analysis and news. This is a selection from the last week.

Copyright 2010 Los Angeles Times

March 22, 2010 - Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite

1 Comment

  1. Why do people expect the USA government to deal with the Israeli government they have never dealt with them before nor as any country as far as I can see and why is it what do the Israeli have over all these Governments the madness has spread there is no doubt about that whom the Gods wish to distroy they first make mad. Now tell me what the IDF did was not madness. It was all set and ready to attack it does not matter what these peace activists did they were going to attack after all we should have all been at war with Iran by now but this is not happening and why? Now sanctions should be brought to Israel and see how many Jews will stay in this country look what its Govement as done with the world watching and they will do it again this is what you get when you kill others you reap what you sow Israel .


    Comment by D freeman | June 4, 2010

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