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DOJ Openness Workshop Closed To Public

From a selectively outraged Associated Press:

Federal workshop on openness closed to the public

By SHARON THEIMER and MATT APUZZO

December 7, 2009

The Obama administration conducted a workshop on government openness for federal employees behind closed doors Monday, a private training session for freedom-of-information officials to learn about a new U.S. office that settle disputes between the bureaucracy and the public.

The decision to preclude the public and the media from attending Monday’s workshop left open government advocates scratching their heads, given President Barack Obama’s campaign promise to make his administration the most transparent ever. A reporter for The Associated Press was turned away from the door Monday.

"If they’re getting marching orders, why shouldn’t the public be there?" said Jeff Stachewicz, founder of Washington-based FOIA Group Inc., which files hundreds of requests every month across the government on behalf of companies, law firms and news organizations.

The workshop was organized by the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy for agency public liaisons, who serve as ombudsmen and who "play a vital role in the administration of the FOIA at each agency," the government said. It was to set procedures for them to work with the new U.S. Office of Government Information Services, set up to resolve disputes over information requests between citizens and the government.

The Justice Department immediately released presentation materials from the workshop. They noted that the principal concern among agencies and people who ask for information is how long the government takes to hand over materials, a process that frequently stretches into months or even years. Federal workers were told to encourage people to limit the breadth of their requests to get information more quickly, or ask people to give the government enough time to conduct a full search for the information.

"We’d like to know, when they’re training agencies, are they telling them the same thing they’re saying in public, that they’re committed to making the Freedom of Information Act work well and make sure that agencies are releasing information whenever possible while protecting important issues like individual privacy and national security," said Rick Blum, coordinator of the Sunshine in Government Initiative, of which The Associated Press is a member.

The official in charge at the conference, Melanie Ann Pustay, offered these reasons to explain why it was closed: She wanted government employees to be able to speak candidly, and the conference would be in an auditorium at the Commerce Department, where she said a government ID was required to be admitted.

The AP and other news organizations routinely enter government buildings to cover the government

As Obama’s first year in office ends, his record on issues surrounding the Freedom of Information Act – one of the principle mechanisms that citizens use to request information – is uneven so far…

Obama scored points on his pledge by requiring the release of detailed information about $787 billion in economic stimulus spending. It’s now available on a Web site, http://www.recovery.gov. Other notable disclosures include waivers that the White House has granted from Obama’s conflict-of-interest rules and reports detailing Obama’s and top appointees’ personal finances.

Yet on some important issues, his administration produced information only after government watchdogs and reporters spent weeks or months pressing, in some cases suing.

Those include what cars people were buying using the $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program (it turned out the most frequent trades involved pickups for pickups with only slightly better gas mileage); how many times airplanes have collided with birds (a lot); whether lobbyists and donors meet with the Obama White House (they do); rules about the interrogation of terror suspects (the FBI and CIA disagreed over what was permitted); and who was speaking in private with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (he has close relationships with a cadre of Wall Street executives whose multibillion-dollar companies survived the economic crisis with his help)

How laughable that after all the duplicity of the Obama administration, the Associated Press would get so worked up over this.

The workshop was organized by the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy for agency public liaisons, who serve as ombudsmen and who "play a vital role in the administration of the FOIA at each agency," the government said. It was to set procedures for them to work with the new U.S. Office of Government Information Services, set up to resolve disputes over information requests between citizens and the government.

The real question is here is why do we need yet another new government bureaucracy? Another layer for the FOIA requests to have to filter through?

As Obama’s first year in office ends, his record on issues surrounding the Freedom of Information Act – one of the principle mechanisms that citizens use to request information – is uneven so far…

Obama scored points on his pledge by requiring the release of detailed information about $787 billion in economic stimulus spending.

The only thing transparent about Mr. Obama’s reports on the stimulus spending, was that they were transparent lies.

Those include what cars people were buying using the $3 billion Cash for Clunkers program (it turned out the most frequent trades involved pickups for pickups with only slightly better gas mileage)..

Funny, but this is the first we’ve heard of this.

The AP must be really steamed.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, December 7th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

4 Responses to “DOJ Openness Workshop Closed To Public”

  1. proreason says:

    The way I see this one, Bamy and the Commissars were sitting around getting high and one of them said “hey man, that Orwell dude sure had his act together, didn’t he” (note: figuratively pinch the top of your nose when you read this inside your head).

    And then Bamy says, “you’re right man, I sure wish we could figger out something to top that Honky”.

    And then one of the bros says, “hey man, why don’t we have an openness seminar that is closed to the public. How can that Orwell dude top that man?”

    And then Bamy says, “make it happen bro. but what’s with this shit we be doin today man? what good is it to be “your president” if I can’t get better shit than this?”

  2. Liberals Demise says:

    Is that cronyism and TARP $$ mingling to form new jobs where the catch phrase is, “Just say nyet”?

  3. jobeth says:

    Talk about your perfect oxymoron! These signs vs these people!

  4. TerryAnne says:

    Notice that it took two people to compose this glowing piece of doublespeak rhetoric.


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