Who are the criminals here, the corrupted liars and manipulators of a false reality forced down the American people’s throats, or the citizens of this nation for accepting it all without even a whimper of true dissent? I believe the real crimes lay within us all, not in the Oval Office.
WASHINGTON (AP) — For the second consecutive year, the Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them 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.
The government’s new figures, published Tuesday, covered all requests to 100 federal agencies during fiscal 2014 under the Freedom of Information law, which is heralded globally as a model for transparent government. They showed that despite disappointments and failed promises by the White House to make meaningful improvements in the way it releases records, the law was more popular than ever. Citizens, journalists, businesses and others made a record 714,231 requests for information. The U.S. spent a record $434 million trying to keep up.
The government responded to 647,142 requests, a 4 percent decrease over the previous year. The government more than ever censored materials it turned over or fully denied access to them, in 250,581 cases or 39 percent of all requests. Sometimes, the government censored only a few words or an employee’s phone number, but other times it completely marked out nearly every paragraph on pages.
On 215,584 other occasions, the government said it couldn’t find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the government determined the request to be unreasonable or improper.
The White House touted its success under its own analysis. It routinely excludes from its assessment instances when it couldn’t find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the request was determined to be improper under the law, and said under this calculation it released all or parts of records in 91 percent of requests — still a record low since President Barack Obama took office using the White House’s own math.
“We actually do have a lot to brag about,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
The government’s responsiveness under the open records law is an important measure of its transparency. Under the law, citizens and foreigners can compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas. It cited such exceptions a record 554,969 times last year.
Back on October 28, 2009, then White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the following:
… understanding what this President has done is institute the very toughest ethics and transparency rules of any administration in history… I think the President has returned to a stance of transparency and ethics that hasn’t been matched by any other White House.
… the President believes strongly in transparency… that transparency in that way in the best policy
… understand that what the President campaigned on – toughening our ethics rules, making more transparent our transparency policy – was something that he was passionate about and is proud of the progress that we’ve made in ensuring that.
And here is the president himself: “We have put in place the toughest ethics and transparency laws of any administration in history.”
Lies, lies, and nothing but lies. The lies end now.
As reported moments ago, the White House is voiding a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA (incidentally the same act that discovered none of Hillary Clinton’s “personal” government-business emails since they were not even stored on government property!) which as USA Today explains, makes “official a policy under Presidents Bush and Obama to reject requests for records to that office.”
And just like that the lie of Obama’s transparency is over, and it couldn’t come at a worse time for the democratic party, just as its top contender for the 2016 presidential race is struggling to emerge from a cover-up scandal which reeks of intentional hiding of classified documentation from the public (or worse). Going forward it will no longer be Hillary Clinton who will be mocked and ridiculed for her total impunity when it comes to public accountability and transparency, but the “most untransparent” president as well.
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.
Actually, Obama really couldn’t have picked worse timing because not only does it come hot on the heels of clintonemail.com, but