Bad news: Most Transparent Administration, Evah gets a pretty poor grade on FOIA requests
posted at 6:01 pm on March 13, 2013 by Erika Johnsen
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
End quote. As we’re all very well aware by now, the rose-colored sentiments above haven’t remotely matched the Obama administration’s disclosure habits in practice; and really, why should they put in the effort to follow their pledge, when they’re perfectly well aware that they’re probably going to be able to get away with it? Paul Thacker at Slate sums it up pretty well: Despite his pledge to push for an especially transparent administration, President Obama has been fortunate enough to escape a lot of the usual scrutiny aimed at the White House because — drumroll please — he’s a Democrat.
Regardless of who occupies the White House, I understand that power wants power. Scrutiny just gets in the way.
President Obama is no different. Whether it’s responding to Congress, media questions, or FOIA requests, this administration is no better than its predecessor. The big difference: Obama is a Democrat. And because he is a Democrat, he’s gotten a pass from many of the civil liberty and good-government groups who spent years watching President Bush’s every move like a hawk. …
Most Americans don’t care about arcane legal battles over separation of powers between the White House and Congress. On election night, it was obvious that the issue had not resonated outside right-wing media circles. When it became clear that Obama was going to win, an employee with one of Washington’s watchdogs tweeted, “Now am I allowed to criticize Obama on drones & assassination & military commissions & secret memos expanding secret surveillance powers??” Maybe it’s a bad joke, but the implication is that she and her cohort had been withholding criticism of the president until it became clear that he had beaten Mitt Romney.
One might even to venture to argue that the Obama administration is worse than the Bush administration they’ve railed so hard against in certain respects, and they don’t seem to be making any conscientious efforts to improve on their less-than-stellar record, via Breitbart:
Pro-transparency organization Cause of Action has determined that President Barack Obama’s administration over the past year deserves no higher than a C minus for its compliance with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The group announced the new report with a new website it plans to use for “Grading the Government.”
“For an administration that claims to be, ‘the most transparent administration in history,’ a grade of C-, coupled with the finding that nearly three quarters of the offices were unable to respond to our request within a 30 day window and therefore noncompliant with the law, signals that perhaps this administration is merely average at best,” Cause of Action wrote in a report released on Wednesday morning.
The organization sent FOIA request to 114 individual offices in 16 different federal government departments in April 2012. Thus far, 29 offices have not provided any documents whatsoever, while 26 offices took longer than 90 days to respond. Of the 86 offices that did provide documents, Cause of Action said the average response time for the Obama administration was 75 days–more than double what’s legally required of them under FOIA (30 days).
Classic Obama administration: Talking the talk, but walking whatever walk they darn well please.