LAT: New DoJ rule on FOIA lies “outrageous”

posted at 1:25 pm on October 31, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Last week, I wrote about the Obama administration’s new transparency initiative, which would allow the Department of Justice to lie about the existence of documents to hide them from Freedom of Information Act requests, rather than having to explain why the DoJ won’t release them.  For a man who ran on the idea of transparency as a key component of “Hope and Change,” the proposed rule — which would have the force of law — flagrantly destroys any hope of government transparency at all.  The Los Angeles Times gives Barack Obama a double-barreled blast in its lead editorial today, and suggests that Obama go back and reread his own speeches:

At present, if the government doesn’t want to admit the existence of a document it believes to be exempt from FOIA, it may advise the person making the request that it can neither confirm nor deny the document’s existence. Under the proposed regulation, an agency that withholds a document “will respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist.”

This policy is outrageous. It provides a license for the government to lie to its own people and makes a mockery of FOIA. It also would mislead citizens who might file an appeal if they knew there was a possibility that the document they sought was in the possession of a government agency. Such an appeal would allow a court to determine whether the requested document was covered by an exemption in FOIA. …

FOIA doesn’t provide a blanket right to public access to government documents. It’s reasonable to have exceptions for certain classified national security or foreign policy documents if their release would damage American interests. The government should be free to withhold those documents, subject to review by the courts, but it would be unacceptable — and deeply undemocratic — to pretend they don’t exist. The Justice Department should discard the rule and start over. And Obama should reread his pronouncements about transparent government.

It’s not “pretend.”  Let’s call it what it is — lying.  Congress passed FOIA to make government more open and transparent, buoyed by a nation that had tired of government operating outside of its bounds.  That was as true in Republican administrations as in Democratic administrations, and in Congresses controlled by both parties.

This rule goes beyond being “deeply undemocratic.”   It enshrines dishonesty into law, and gives carte blanche to bureaucrats to decide exactly what level of transparency citizens deserve from their own government.  The rule would make each bureaucrat into his own feudal lord, answerable in real terms to no one but himself.  Instead of our government serving its citizens, the unaccountable would run roughshod over the governed.  Even worse, the inability to uncover malfeasance when it occurs would pressure succeeding administrations into investigating its predecessors, which would lead to a never-ending cycle of prosecutions, some of which might be legitimate and others perhaps more political payback.  It’s a recipe for utter disaster.

The DoJ should pull this proposed rule off the ledger immediately, and the people responsible for it should be shown the door.

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Typical obama. Nothing to see here. Move along.

tim c on October 31, 2011 at 1:28 PM

The DoJ should pull this proposed rule off the ledger immediately, and the people responsible for it should be shown the door.

Our people must insist on it, must generate an ever increasing stink until they pull it and fire those responsible.

petefrt on October 31, 2011 at 1:30 PM

“What proposed rule? It doesn’t exist!”

- DoJ

Ward Cleaver on October 31, 2011 at 1:33 PM

So, does the DOJ have its eye on certain existing documents that it would like to disappear? Maybe, oh, I don’t know, say documents related to Fast and Furious or certain energy loans?

Nah, they wouldn’t do that, would they?

SlaveDog on October 31, 2011 at 1:33 PM

Not even a slap on the wrist

If W’s Doj did this part 476

cmsinaz on October 31, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Not even a slap on the wrist

If W’s Doj did this part 476

cmsinaz on October 31, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Ain’t that the truth.

SlaveDog on October 31, 2011 at 1:35 PM

As if they don’t lie already. And we want to give them permission?

Again, why aren’t the candidates talking about this? Are these people actually alive?

rrpjr on October 31, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Sounds like the LAT has really gone off the reservation.

Ward Cleaver on October 31, 2011 at 1:36 PM

As if they don’t lie already. And we want to give them permission?

Again, why aren’t the candidates talking about this? Are these people actually alive?

rrpjr on October 31, 2011 at 1:35 PM

They’re too busy dodging smears from the MSM.

Ward Cleaver on October 31, 2011 at 1:37 PM

Makes you wonder why Team O is telling us they’re doing this. Seems counterproductive. Is their cognitive dissonance that deeply rooted?

J.E. Dyer on October 31, 2011 at 1:37 PM

The DoJ should pull this proposed rule off the ledger immediately, and the people responsible for it should be shown the door.

Yeah, the guys that authorized the whole “let’s sell guns to Mexican cartels for kicks” deal are going to get right on that.

Can’t have those documents kicking around.

John_Locke on October 31, 2011 at 1:37 PM

“The rule would make each bureaucrat into his own feudal lord, answerable in real terms to no one but himself…”

Hmmmmmmmm…

… Second look at Prima Nocta?

/

Seven Percent Solution on October 31, 2011 at 1:39 PM

Sounds like the LAT has really gone off the reservation.

Ward Cleaver on October 31, 2011 at 1:36 PM

I’ll say! What’s up with them these days?

Meanwhile, the NYT, WaaahPo, Time, Newsweek, Yahoo, and the alphabet media continue to carry water for this administration. So all is right left with the world.

UltimateBob on October 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Is this the same LA Times that has a video locked away of one Barack Obama cavorting and cahooting with Rashid Khalidi, Bill Ayers and numerous other miscreants that they are far from freely releasing???

You want transparency, LAT??? How about releasing that video.

ted c on October 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM

The fact that the lying swine could even propose giving themselves the right to lie to the people they are supposed to serve tells you all you need to know about them.

What kind of corrupt scum would propose such a thing?

What is it they are so desperate to hide?

novaculus on October 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM

It also would mislead citizens who might file an appeal if they knew there was a possibility that the document they sought was in the possession of a government agency.

Which would force (or at least encourage) anyone denied a document to file that appeal, tying up a whle lot of people in government and costing a lot of money to deal with. If no doesn’t mean no, then there is no “no.”

Unintended consequences?

iurockhead on October 31, 2011 at 1:42 PM

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics Obamanations.”

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on October 31, 2011 at 1:42 PM

What is it they are so desperate to hide?

novaculus on October 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Really? Gosh, where to start………

iurockhead on October 31, 2011 at 1:43 PM

what if Bush had….oh never mind, the stupidass media will not care as long as Barry Hussein is doing it anyway….

SDarchitect on October 31, 2011 at 1:44 PM

If W’s Doj did this part 476

cmsinaz on October 31, 2011 at 1:34 PM

If GWB did half the crap Obama has pulled, he’d have been impeached already.

portlandon on October 31, 2011 at 1:44 PM

What is it they are so desperate to hide?

novaculus on October 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Do you have all day?

John_Locke on October 31, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Dear Mr. President,

Magna Carta is not a wine you a$$hole.

NotCoach on October 31, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Look!

Over there!

Cain!

Shy Guy on October 31, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Magna Carta is not a wine

NotCoach on October 31, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Of course not.

It’s Billy Beer by any other name.

Shy Guy on October 31, 2011 at 1:47 PM

The DoJ should pull this proposed rule off the ledger immediately, and the people responsible for it should be shown the door gallows.

Sorry to sound so harsh, but this is downright treasonous and un-American.

UltimateBob on October 31, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Sure, it’s bad optics, but my hunch is they are more afraid of a Republican administration keeping it in place and using it–or, even worse, reversing it. Imagine the optics of THAT.

Christien on October 31, 2011 at 1:48 PM

Let’s be clear here. This is not about democracy, but rule of law. The President is placing himself above and outside of the law.

NotCoach on October 31, 2011 at 1:50 PM

portlandon on October 31, 2011 at 1:44 PM

tru dat

cmsinaz on October 31, 2011 at 1:50 PM

Dear Mr. President,

Magna Carta is not a wine you a$$hole.

NotCoach on October 31, 2011 at 1:45 PM

He wouldn’t know that. Trailer trash like him and his wife only drink the “good stuff” that comes in a screw-top gallon jug.

UltimateBob on October 31, 2011 at 1:51 PM

And Obama should reread his pronouncements about transparent government.

Well, the LA Times should ask themselves why they have a video under lock and key that the greater public would like to see. If the LAT is crying about transparency from Obama, maybe they should look in the mirror first.

ted c on October 31, 2011 at 1:54 PM

Scooter Libby!!!!!!111111!!!!

SouthernGent on October 31, 2011 at 1:56 PM

McCain thanks LAT for hiding Obama video

ted c on October 31, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Hey, if my policies played a direct role in the murder of American law enforcement officials, I might want the rules changed so I could lie about my activities and not face the consequences. Viva la Hopenchange!

Bruce MacMahon on October 31, 2011 at 2:01 PM

Defies belief. Why is this man still in office. He’s little more than a high profile con man.

jeanie on October 31, 2011 at 2:02 PM

The first rule of FOIA is don’t talk about FOIA.

TugboatPhil on October 31, 2011 at 2:02 PM

they are fighting a rear guard action with this one Ed.

ted c on October 31, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Obama and Michelle are Louis IV and Madame de Pompadour.

Schadenfreude on October 31, 2011 at 2:04 PM

It’s a recipe for utter disaster.

It’s the only recipe he has.

lynncgb on October 31, 2011 at 2:06 PM

The Los Angeles Times gives Barack Obama a double-barreled blast in its lead editorial today

boom boom. Back at you LAT. Let’s see that video in your vault……

Turnabout = fair play

ted c on October 31, 2011 at 2:07 PM

“It enshrines dishonesty into law, and gives carte blanche to bureaucrats to decide exactly what level of transparency citizens deserve from their own government…”

Now that’s just crazy talk…!

… Oh, wait!

/

Seven Percent Solution on October 31, 2011 at 2:09 PM

Just before W. C. Fields died, one of his friends visited him in the hospital. Fields was thumbing through a Bible.

“Say, I didn’t think you were religious,” said the friend.

“I’m not,” said Fields. “I’m looking for loopholes.”

In a similar way I’ve come to believe that by majoring in constitutional law, Obama’s real purpose was to figure out how it could be breached or subverted.

Anyone else share this opinion?

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on October 31, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Government agency itself under heavy scrutiny in several investigations seeks to hide documents from public.

Coincidental facts, I’m sure.

BobMbx on October 31, 2011 at 2:15 PM

Is this the same LA Times that has a video locked away of one Barack Obama cavorting and cahooting with Rashid Khalidi, Bill Ayers and numerous other miscreants that they are far from freely releasing???

You want transparency, LAT??? How about releasing that video.

ted c on October 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Thanks, I had the same thought.

J.E. Dyer on October 31, 2011 at 2:16 PM

If we don’t get rid of this administration (and a certain segment of Congress) we’ll be sealing our own doom.

RebeccaH on October 31, 2011 at 2:21 PM

Just before W. C. Fields died, one of his friends visited him in the hospital. Fields was thumbing through a Bible.

“Say, I didn’t think you were religious,” said the friend.

“I’m not,” said Fields. “I’m looking for loopholes.”

In a similar way I’ve come to believe that by majoring in constitutional law, Obama’s real purpose was to figure out how it could be breached or subverted.

Anyone else share this opinion?

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on October 31, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Yes.

tinkerthinker on October 31, 2011 at 2:22 PM

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on October 31, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Yep.

Desert Gardens on October 31, 2011 at 2:29 PM

I really don’t give a “f” what the LA Times says until they release the video of Obama talking about Israel…

Khun Joe on October 31, 2011 at 2:30 PM

Hope and Change, baby. Hope and Change.

Scrappy on October 31, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Does this proposed “thing” have a number or a name or something so that we can define it in letters ,phone calls, emails, etc.

retiredeagle on October 31, 2011 at 2:45 PM

In a similar way I’ve come to believe that by majoring in constitutional law, Obama’s real purpose was to figure out how it could be breached or subverted.

Anyone else share this opinion?

Dr. Charles G. Waugh on October 31, 2011 at 2:12 PM

Obama rips U.S. Constitution

Seven Percent Solution on October 31, 2011 at 2:45 PM

Don’t forget, it is okay for leftists to lie — it’s all for a good cause. Bill Clinton set the standard by which we now live.

If it isn’t okay to lie, then perhaps the LA Times should start holding BO accountable for the whoppers he’s been telling since the day he arrived on the political scene. You can’t have it both ways and you certainly can’t expect BO to start telling the truth — it would destroy him.

ClanDerson on October 31, 2011 at 2:49 PM

New FOIA czar…… Putin

ultracon on October 31, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Is this the same LA Times that has a video locked away of one Barack Obama cavorting and cahooting with Rashid Khalidi, Bill Ayers and numerous other miscreants that they are far from freely releasing???

You want transparency, LAT??? How about releasing that video.

ted c on October 31, 2011 at 1:41 PM

There you go.

rrpjr on October 31, 2011 at 2:55 PM

If the DOJ lies now, they will be covered in the future if and when this ‘rule’ is reversed. WOW! A get outta jail free card for the agency in the govt that is supposed to maintain law and order for the govt.

Kissmygrits on October 31, 2011 at 3:05 PM

There is no rule of law when the keepers of the law are liars. This is a devastating blow to the notion of freedom in this country. Nothing goes deeper – nothing is more damaging than the inability of the people to determine what is and what isn’t fact. How can we even fight if we can not define the roots and and causes of our differences?

Is this an administration at all, or is it something far more nefarious? I begin to wonder.

A few months back there was some democrat woman int he south talking about canceling elections and it made me laugh a bit, why would they want to cancel them when they dont’ have control of the government?

I was laughably naive. The nascent imperial presidency is developing more quickly than i could have ever imagined.

If you wrote this as fiction, I’d have cackled and called you an idiot. It’s so unreal.

WashingtonsWake on October 31, 2011 at 3:18 PM

I am beyond disgusted.

WashingtonsWake on October 31, 2011 at 3:20 PM

Little late for the LA Times to be ‘disgusted’.

Does this mean they won’t carry water for Barry any longer?

GarandFan on October 31, 2011 at 4:16 PM

Magna Carta is not a wine

NotCoach on October 31, 2011 at 1:45 PM

Of course not.

It’s Billy Beer by any other name.

Shy Guy on October 31, 2011 at 1:47 PM

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/77475

“It’s the best beer I’ve ever tasted. And I’ve tasted a lot.”

Del Dolemonte on October 31, 2011 at 4:22 PM

But… But… But… the BOOSH HITLER did stuff too and Barack Obama isn’t nearly as bad as GEORGE BUSH!

FlatFoot on October 31, 2011 at 5:19 PM

People seem to forget that it works this way: Democrats fight against transparent government. I remember in 1995 when Newt’s Congress removed the exemption for many transparency laws, the Dems were apoplectic. They refused to believe that the law applied to them!

Hal_10000 on November 1, 2011 at 11:31 AM