As with all of Barack Obama’s grandiose promises of hope and change, the guarantee that his would be the most transparent administration in history was twaddle. The assurances were empty rhetoric. Obama never intended transparency for his administration, he only intended to talk about, promise and proclaim transparency. To liberals, appearing concerned about doing good is much more important than is the substance of doing good.
As for actual substance of transparency, it is important to note that this administration created a central clearinghouse in the White House, staffed with hundreds of democrat lawyers, whose job it is to manage and control all of the FOIA requests for the entire executive branch of government. With all FOIA requests routed through this cadre of lawyers, the administration has been able to control the release of information so that the progressive lies are applied consistently, without the risk of various departments inadvertently releasing information – even in part – that Obama wants kept secret.
Now, as we have recently discovered, the Obama administration, acting through the Justice Department, fought mightily against proposed modifications to the Freedom of Information Act which would have forced the administration to be more transparent.
Obama Admin Fought Improving Government Transparency
The Daily Caller is reporting that the Obama administration, which is the self-described most transparent administration in history, lobbied against a bill that was introduced by Congressional Republicans which would have expanded FOIA and required more government transparency. according to emails and talking points obtained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation.
To combat passage of the bill, the Obama administration utilized the Justice Department, the government agency which has done the most to shield Obama from justice relied on a set of talking points to defeat the legislation. The fight over reforming the Freedom of Information Act, known as FOIA, occurred in 2014.
“The administration views the bill as an attempt to impose on the executive branch multiple administrative requirements concerning its internal management of FOIA administration, which are not appropriate for legislative intervention and would substantially increase costs and cause delays in FOIA processing,” according to the talking points. The legislation would have required agencies to presume documents were releasable unless officials could specify how the records would cause “foreseeable harm.”
A law that provides for the automatic release of any kind of information would be inherently harmful to the Obama administration, who has gone to great lengths to prevent all but the bare minimum releases of information.
To mask their abject objection to the FOIA reform legislation, the Justice Department framed the argument differently. “It is not uncommon for subject matter experts to provide feedback on technical aspects of proposed legislation and potential unintended consequences,” Justice Department spokeswoman Beverly Lumpkin told Vice News journalist Jason Leopold, who first reported on Freedom of the Press Foundation’s documents. This statement is, of course, meaningless drivel calculated to confuse, not inform.
Cadre Of White House Lawyers Controls FOIA Requests For Entire Executive Branch
The Obama administration’s hypocrisy is made apparent by their April 2009 memo to all departments and agencies of the executive branch that requires all FOIA requests – and all material responsive to the requests – be routed through a newly created FOIA clearinghouse which was located in the White House.
The FOIA operation in the White House is staffed with hundreds of democrat lawyers whose job it is to control the release of information and documents for all public information releases. This FOIA clearinghouse has added tremendous expense and significantly increased the time it takes the Obama administration to respond to FOIA requests.
The House and Senate each passed versions of the FOIA reform bill last session, but the legislation died before merging. The House passed another version this year. The reform would make more documents available online and would create an online portal to handle all FOIA requests, in addition to codifying the presumption of openness, which the Justice Department strongly opposes, documents show.
Justice Dept Has History Of Shielding Obama Admin From Disclosure Requirements
This isn’t the first time the Justice Department has protected Obama by quashing efforts that would force the administration into greater transparency. The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to legal action to determine that the Justice Department could block documents from its inspector general. This legal opinion was suspect, however, because it directly contradicted the 1978 law that created inspectors general requires the department to make all records available.
Any request sent to the Obama administration pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act that get to close to Obama cover-ups are stonewalled, sometimes taking up to two years longer that the law allows for response, even when the response is that the administration is refusing to cooperate. It has taken a federal lawsuit to compel the Obama administration to comply with virtually every FOIA request of substance for the last seven years.
In that the Obama admin fought improving government transparency, I think we can dispel the myth of the most transparent administration in history, but it is setting all the records for secrecy and dirty tricks.