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AP: Obama Administration Not So Open

From, of all place, his usually dependable acolytes at the Associated Press:

U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden (L) watches while U.S. President Barack Obama signs an executive order on Executive Branch ethics.

PROMISES, PROMISES: Is gov’t more open with Obama?

By Sharon Theimer, Associated Press Writer

March 6, 200

WASHINGTON – Federal agencies haven’t lived up to President Barack Obama’s promise of a more open government, increasing their use of legal exemptions to keep records secret during his first year in office.

An Associated Press review of Freedom of Information Act reports filed by 17 major agencies found that the use of nearly every one of the law’s nine exemptions to withhold information from the public rose in fiscal year 2009, which ended last October.

Among the most frequently used exemptions: one that lets the government hide records that detail its internal decision-making. Obama specifically directed agencies to stop using that exemption so frequently, but that directive appears to have been widely ignored.

Major agencies cited that exemption at least 70,779 times during the 2009 budget year, up from 47,395 times during President George W. Bush’s final full budget year, according to annual FOIA reports filed by federal agencies. Obama was president for nine months in the 2009 period.

So Mr. Obama topped President Bush’s record for a full year in just nine months.

Departments used the exemption more even though Obama’s Justice Department told agencies to that disclosing such records was "fully consistent with the purpose of the FOIA," a law intended to keep government accountable to the public

Imagine that. Mr. Obama saying one thing and then doing another.

The FAA claimed [an] exemption to hold back nearly all records on its approval of an Air Force One flyover of New York City for publicity shots — a flight that prompted fears in the city of a Sept. 11-style attack. It also withheld internal communications during the aftermath of the public relations gaffe.

In all, major agencies cited that or other FOIA exemptions to refuse information at least 466,872 times in budget year 2009, compared with 312,683 times the previous year, the review found. Agencies often cite more than one exemption when withholding part or all of the material sought in an open-records request.

All told, the 17 agencies reviewed by AP reported getting 444,924 FOIA requests in fiscal 2009, compared with 493,610 in fiscal 2008.

Again, this is comparing a full Bush year to just nine months under Obama.

The prolific use of FOIA exemptions is one measure of how far the federal government has yet to go to carry out Obama’s promise of openness. His first full day in office, Obama told agencies the Freedom of Information Act, "which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government."

Obama told agencies they shouldn’t hide information merely because it might make them look bad. "The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA," Obama wrote

Remember how we laughed at the time?

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and White House Counsel Bob Bauer called on agency heads Tuesday to improve their handling of FOIA requests and assess whether they are devoting the resources needed to respond to requests "promptly and cooperatively." …

Those kidders.

Much of the Obama administration’s early effort on FOIA seems to have been aimed at clearing out a backlog of old cases: The number of requests still sitting around past the time limits spelled out in the open-records law fell from 124,019 in budget year 2008 to 67,764 at the end of the most recent budget year over the 17 agencies, the AP’s review found. There is no way to tell whether those whose old cases that were closed ultimately received the information they sought.

In other words, the Obama administration has been very eager to rush out FOIAs that were initiated under the Bush administration. But they aren’t in any hurry to respond to requests for their administration.

What a surprise.

This article was posted by Steve on Tuesday, March 16th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

7 Responses to “AP: Obama Administration Not So Open”

  1. Reality Bytes says:

    Somebody’s gonn put a cap in their Ass. Press!

  2. proreason says:

    I’m getting angry.

    My placid acceptance of the criminal facist regime is beginning to wear off.

  3. Mithrandir says:

    I don’t know if you have noticed it or not in your life, but my gloating, loud-mouthed Obama, Facebook, and MySpace friends have finally put down their pom pons and shut the heck up. It took them 14 months to do it, but they have gone from wild-eyed crazies to hand-wringing nail-biters!

    Buyer’s remorse….. (I told you so…..)

  4. Right of the People says:

    AP headline just in: Water is wet, night is dark, Drooling Barney is a flamer.

    Some of the sh*t we know!


    What happened with your friends, did they get jobs and have to start paying taxes?

    • Mithrandir says:

      No, reality has come crashing down around them! They ignored Obama’s lies and misdirections for a while, (calling it ‘sour grapes’) but then they started piling up, and they got quieter and quieter.

  5. MinnesotaRush says:

    “AP: Obama Administration Not So Open”

    No kidding, AP!!!!

    But AP (and the rest of the MSM) wasn’t terribly open when this looney o-blah-blah was running for office either. It’s not like the “problems” with this dude were top secret data. Just ignored.

  6. canary says:

    From FOXNews.com:

    Holder Boasts of Transparency, but Studies Find Government Still Too Secretive

    By Mike Levine Mar 16 2010

    Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that the Obama administration has “delivered” on its promise to make government more transparent, …

    This past year has brought a shift in the way our entire federal government operates,” Holder said as he commemorated “National Sunshine Week,” which celebrates open government and freedom of information.

    Specifically, he said a “disturbing trend” under the Bush administration, which saw a reduction in government disclosures under the Freedom of Information Act, has been “completely reversed.”

    “While we aren’t where we need to be just yet, we’re certainly on the right path,” he said. “We must keep up this work. …


    Well, Holder did disclose he believes we are a nation of cowards.

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