“Most transparent” White House ever rewrote FOIA to exclude its docs

posted at 12:01 pm on March 19, 2014 by Bruce McQuain

That’s right, the Obama White House has quietly rewritten a portion of the Freedom Of Information Act to exclude what it calls “White House equities” from being released without a White House review.  The rewrite was inspired by a 2009 memo by then White House counsel, Greg Craig:

The Greg memo is described in detail in a new study made public today by Cause of Action, a Washington-based nonprofit watchdog group that monitors government transparency and accountability.

How serious an attack on the public’s right to know is the Obama administration’s invention of the “White House equities” exception?

“FOIA is designed to inform the public on government behavior; White House equities allow the government to withhold information from the media, and therefore the public, by having media requests forwarded for review. This not only politicizes federal agencies, it impairs fundamental First Amendment liberties,” Cause of Action explains in its report.

The equities exception is breathtaking in its breadth. As the Greg memo put it, any document request is covered, including “congressional committee requests, GAO requests, judicial subpoenas and FOIA requests.”

And it doesn’t matter what format the documents happen to be in because, according to Greg, the equities exception “applies to all documents and records, whether in oral, paper, or electronic form, that relate to communications to and from the White House, including preparations for such communications.”

What this effectively does is stop federal agencies from answering FOIA requests which might include “White House equities” within the 20 days required by law.  There is no apparent limit to the review time the White House can take with its “review” of such requests.  Since the White House gets to decide what are “White House equities” and how long it will take to review requests which include them, the change effectively neuters the intent of the FOIA law.  This gives the White House the ability to delay release of such information until it is politically beneficial for them to do so (or, in reality, not at all):

In one case cited by Cause of Action, the response to a request from a Los Angeles Times reporter to the Department of the Interior for “communications between the White House and high-ranking Interior officials on various politically sensitive topics” was delayed at least two years by the equities review.

And that isn’t the only department in which such delays have become common:

“Cause of Action is still waiting for documents from 16 federal agencies, with the Department of Treasury having the longest pending request of 202 business days.

“The Department of Energy is a close second at 169 business days. The requests to the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services have been pending for 138 business days,” the report said.

This is what political subversion looks like.  It is also a fairly common example of this administration saying one thing and actually doing the opposite.

Most transparent administration ever.  Another lie worthy of 4 Pinocchios.

~McQ

Update: Fixed spelling.

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Tyranny, plain and simple…

PatriotRider on March 19, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Of Paul, Cruz, Ryan and Walker who is most likely to really fix the transparency issues that plague us?

Bradky on March 19, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Most transparently corrupt administration ever.

rbj on March 19, 2014 at 12:06 PM

The Chicago way…

PatriotRider on March 19, 2014 at 12:06 PM

You’re not going to see the MSM tripping over themselves to be the first to report this.

supernova on March 19, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Shouldn’t rewriting any duly-enacted federal statute require an act of both houses of Congress?

steebo77 on March 19, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Please don’t post anymore pic’s of Obama…seeing him literally makes me sick…

PatriotRider on March 19, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Most transparently corrupt administration ever.

rbj on March 19, 2014 at 12:06 PM

That it is.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:08 PM

All hail Caesar.

platypus on March 19, 2014 at 12:10 PM

“White House equities”…what the hell doe that mean???…

PatriotRider on March 19, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Bruce, FYI, the word is spelled “TransparEnt”

HughJass on March 19, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Shouldn’t rewriting any duly-enacted federal statute require an act of both houses of Congress?

steebo77 on March 19, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Not in a banana republic, such as ours.

The Rogue Tomato on March 19, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Shouldn’t rewriting any duly-enacted federal statute require an act of both houses of Congress?

steebo77 on March 19, 2014 at 12:07 PM

My question too.

dirtseller on March 19, 2014 at 12:12 PM

Transparency in China

Schadenfreude on March 19, 2014 at 12:13 PM

So when does the re-write of the Constitution and Bill Of Rights begin?

First order of business – allow a sitting President to seek re-election as many times as he wants.

And then – that pesky 2nd Amendment. It’s gotta go.

And they won’t stop there.

Timothy S. Carlson on March 19, 2014 at 12:13 PM

BIG LIE:

“President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history…”

TRUTH:

President Obama has made his administration the most SECRETIVE and ███████████ in history.

ITguy on March 19, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Hey, most media, what you consume is obama-crap, not Beluga caviar. Choke from it, you miserable fools.

Schadenfreude on March 19, 2014 at 12:14 PM

PatriotRider on March 19, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Having “equity” in something is a term in vogue for the DoD and bureaucracy that has been used quite a bit in the past five years. Usually it is used to punt on commenting on an issue or subject being coordinated for subject matter experts to weigh in.
EPA Dept RBXA has no equity in “the flathead trout in the potomac sewage” proposal….

Bradky on March 19, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Unexpected!

KS Rex on March 19, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Transparency in China

Schadenfreude on March 19, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Another taxpayer funded vacay for the Mooch, her mother and the two Obama brats…

PatriotRider on March 19, 2014 at 12:15 PM

In the 1980′s it was: The US vs the Soviets

In the 2010′s it is: The US Soviets vs the Russian Soviets

Oil Can on March 19, 2014 at 12:16 PM

We are way beyond Nixon territory and heading for Stalin.

JEM on March 19, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Of Paul, Cruz, Ryan and Walker who is most likely to really fix the transparency issues that plague us?

Bradky on March 19, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Paul, Cruz and Walker. My question on these 3 – who’s most transparently for amnesty?

Schadenfreude on March 19, 2014 at 12:16 PM

ITguy on March 19, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Good one!

KS Rex on March 19, 2014 at 12:17 PM

First order of business – allow a sitting President to seek re-election as many times as he wants.

And then – that pesky 2nd Amendment. It’s gotta go.

And they won’t stop there.

Timothy S. Carlson on March 19, 2014 at 12:13 PM

No, they won’t stop until they have absolute power and control.

For now we still have a Republic, if we can keep it.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Schadenfreude on March 19, 2014 at 12:14 PM

This. Children who are primarily given vegetables as their first solid food generally eat enough vegetables the rest of their lives. So your comment is more reality-based than you know. They really had no idea that crap isn’t caviar.

platypus on March 19, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Another taxpayer funded vacay for the Mooch, her mother and the two Obama brats…

PatriotRider on March 19, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Work harder, producers/taxpayers.

————
Were all the trolls on that missing flight?

Schadenfreude on March 19, 2014 at 12:18 PM

For now we still have a Republic, if we can keep it.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Not really…I hear a Predator drone nearby…gotta go…

PatriotRider on March 19, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Hey McQ, it’s transparent, not transparant. Got it wrong in the headline and the article.

Trafalgar on March 19, 2014 at 12:21 PM

I already heard this years ago. I read that as soon as Obama took office he did this thus “burying” any info on him…

sandee on March 19, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Not really…I hear a Predator drone nearby…gotta go…

PatriotRider on March 19, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Keep a low profile and stay away from open areas.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Transparant? Spell check failure.

Philly on March 19, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Most transparant administration ever. Another lie worthy of 4 Pinocchios.

Yeah as if the WaPo is going to let THAT happen.

Happy Nomad on March 19, 2014 at 12:22 PM

There was a piece about 3 weeks ago about how the Obama Administration has been flooding the PR channels with releases of useless information in an effort to choke the resources of those trying to monitor the administration.
This made them uselessly transparent where it didn’t matter.

J_Crater on March 19, 2014 at 12:22 PM

I just issued an executive order declaring a Flange equities exception from all of obozo’s “laws”.

Flange on March 19, 2014 at 12:23 PM

For now we still have a Republic, if we can keep it.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:17 PM

NEWS FLASH… We HAD a republic, We DID NOT KEEP IT… We surrendered it to a Marxist Orator who promised the moon, and lot’s of free stuff…

oscarwilde on March 19, 2014 at 12:23 PM

Work harder, producers/taxpayers.

————
Were all the trolls on that missing flight?

Schadenfreude on March 19, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Not a subject of interest, maybe.

Just work guns, gays, Cruz, Palin, Obamacare into the conversation and watch what happens.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:24 PM

NEWS FLASH… We HAD a republic, We DID NOT KEEP IT… We surrendered it to a Marxist Orator who promised the moon, and lot’s of free stuff…

oscarwilde on March 19, 2014 at 12:23 PM

True that.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:26 PM

Shouldn’t rewriting any duly-enacted federal statute require an act of both houses of Congress?

Haven’t you heard? Dear Leader has a pen and a phone, and he’s not afraid to use them.
So long as it benefits Dear Leader’s agenda, that is.

orangemtl on March 19, 2014 at 12:27 PM

My FOIA request of the WH has never been answered. I wanna know why Michelle’s ring finger is longer than her fore finger.

Akzed on March 19, 2014 at 12:29 PM

So when can I expect a strongly worded memo from
Boner and Turtle head??

ToddPA on March 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM

If democrats had no idea what was in the multi-thousand page “Affordable Care Act” obamanation, they sure as hell don’t know what it will become under constant change by king borak.

lel2007 on March 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Haven’t seen any in days.

Schadenfreude on March 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM

NEWS FLASH… We HAD a republic, We DID NOT KEEP IT… We surrendered it to a Marxist Orator who promised the moon, and lot’s of free stuff…

oscarwilde on March 19, 2014 at 12:23 PM

True that.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:26 PM

A Republic sold for a mess of free stuff. Freedom given up for so-called security.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM

“The dust bin of history”
Exactly where this administration belongs…..2017 can’t get here soon enough…..

Doc Holliday on March 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM

If we like our secrets, we can keep our secrets.

antipc on March 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM

President Obama has made his administration the most SECRETIVE and ███████████ in history. ITguy on March 19, 2014 at 12:14 PM

I wish I was an IT guy and knew how to do cool stuff like that.

What’s your secret IT Guy?!

Akzed on March 19, 2014 at 12:31 PM

At some point the American patriots will start marching in the streets. Its just a matter of time.

neyney on March 19, 2014 at 12:31 PM

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Haven’t seen any in days.

Schadenfreude on March 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM

Really? Now that is creepy.

Something big must be about to go down.

/SNARK

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:32 PM

The Rule of Cowards.

SweetSensationalist on March 19, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Barack Obama surges into the lead!!! He has not only surpassed Jimmuh Carter as the Weakest Foreign Policy President, he has no surpassed Richard Nixon as the Most Secretive President Evah!

Steve Z on March 19, 2014 at 12:33 PM

“The dust bin of history”
Exactly where this administration belongs…..2017 can’t get here soon enough…..

Doc Holliday on March 19, 2014 at 12:30 PM

The dust bin of history is where it wants our nation as it has been.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:33 PM

Just wondering if ten weeks is enough time to undue all these executive orders when and if a Republican is elected president.

antipc on March 19, 2014 at 12:36 PM

The Yeti and her filthy brats are going on vacation but guess we’ll have to take their word for it that it is a valid use of taxpayer money and not a bunch of spoiled women with a hatred for this nation and a sense of entitlement.

First Lady Michelle Obama will be accompanied by her children and her mother on her trip to China, which begins today. But she won’t be accompanied by the press.

“Michelle Obama’s trip to China starting on Wednesday will be nonpolitical, the White House says, a ‘people-to-people exchange’ emphasizing the importance that both nations place on education. As if to underscore the point, no reporters are traveling with the first lady, and she does not plan to give interviews while there,” reports the New York Times.

Happy Nomad on March 19, 2014 at 12:37 PM

I’m really sick and tired of hearing about the “most transparent evah” line. We should not be viewing what the administration does through that lens, as it was nothing but campaign rhetoric to begin with.

What we should be doing is looking at these things in a historical reference and determine if these actions are either simply Nixonian… or Stalinesque in deed. In either case, they clearly implicate the lapdog media as willing accomplices.

BKeyser on March 19, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Just wondering if ten weeks is enough time to undue all these executive orders when and if a Republican is elected president.

antipc on March 19, 2014 at 12:36 PM

I’m more worried about the end of 2014 if the GOP takes both houses of Congress and the end of 2016 if a Republican wins the Presidency. Those lame duck periods are going to resemble the looting that occurs in a Louisiana Wal-mart when the EBT system goes down.

Happy Nomad on March 19, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Shouldn’t rewriting any duly-enacted federal statute require an act of both houses of Congress?

steebo77 on March 19, 2014 at 12:07 PM

Bless your heart. It isn’t 2007 anymore. We’ve moved on.

Occams Stubble on March 19, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Just wondering if ten weeks is enough time to undue all these executive orders when and if a Republican is elected president.

antipc on March 19, 2014 at 12:36 PM

At the rate thing are going, I suspect we may never see a Republican president again. The GOP doesn’t appear to be helping much either.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Our media will do anything in its power to NOT get this bit of into out to the public.

portlandon on March 19, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Barrack ███████████ Obama born ███████████ in ███████████ ss# ███████████ arrested ███████████ religion ███████████ political ideology ███████████ harvard transcripts ███████████ ███████████ ███████████ ███████████ political contributions ███████████
known associates ███████████ ███████████ occupation ███████████

roflmmfao

donabernathy on March 19, 2014 at 12:42 PM

I’m more worried about the end of 2014 if the GOP takes both houses of Congress and the end of 2016 if a Republican wins the Presidency. Those lame duck periods are going to resemble the looting that occurs in a Louisiana Wal-mart when the EBT system goes down.

Happy Nomad on March 19, 2014 at 12:39 PM

Sad but true, except this time it’ll occur on a executive level.

D-fusit on March 19, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Happy Nomad on March 19, 2014 at 12:39 PM

I suspect it’ll be a lot more than just the “W’s” off of the White House computer keyboards this time.

antipc on March 19, 2014 at 12:51 PM

So when do they rewrite election laws? Oh… I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.

Ukiah on March 19, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Sad but true, except this time it’ll occur on a executive level.

D-fusit on March 19, 2014 at 12:45 PM

The list of items that the Clinton’s were forced to return in 2000 was long, and expensive.

Can you imagine what Moochelle will take with her in 2016?

portlandon on March 19, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Just work guns, gays, Cruz, Palin, Obamacare into the conversation and watch what happens.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:24 PM

not sure I can but I will try…

Did you hear cruz wrote a bill that wants to give guns (force them on them or pay a tax fine) to all gay people so they can shoot obamacare supporters? palin will be providing training for it.

dmacleo on March 19, 2014 at 12:56 PM

Yesterday I mentioned where is Bohener sp. or MaConnell on this ,,,, is the Speaker of the House still drunk? Why do they remain silent on Bama’s power grabs. I wonder what good will it do if the GOP takes the Senate. I am getting to the point we have our own Putin sitting in the White House.

garydt on March 19, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Everything this most incompetent President says is a LIE… Everything… It is simply beyond belief…

mnjg on March 19, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Everything this most incompetent President says is a LIE… Everything… It is simply beyond belief…

mnjg on March 19, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Must be related to Joe Isuzu.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 12:59 PM

My FOIA request of the WH has never been answered. I wanna know why Michelle’s ring finger is longer than her fore finger.

Akzed on March 19, 2014 at 12:29 PM

So she can more easily tear the meat off those BBQ ribs.

May I mark this FOIA request closed?

Maddie on March 19, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Shouldn’t rewriting any duly-enacted federal statute require an act of both houses of Congress?

steebo77 on March 19, 2014 at 12:07 PM

…not when you have both…a pen and a phone!

KOOLAID2 on March 19, 2014 at 1:09 PM

Welcome to the USSA

Schadenfreude on March 19, 2014 at 1:09 PM

I’m actually SHOCKED that the ‘Greg Memo’ was even released … and not covered by the ‘I Won Memo’.

RedManBlueState on March 19, 2014 at 1:37 PM

What’s your secret IT Guy?!

Akzed on March 19, 2014 at 12:31 PM

I use the Windows Character Map application (Click on the Windows Start Button, then in the “Search programs and files” box enter “charmap” and hit enter to open it) to find characters you don’t normally find on the keyboard, such as:

=================
… elipsis (useful on Twitter when you only want to use 1 character)
≈ equivalent
≠ not equal to
≤ less than or equal to
≥ greater than or equal to
∆ delta, change in
↓ down arrow
↑ up arrow
← left arrow
→ right arrow
© Copyright
® Registered Trademark
█ Black rectangle (redacted)
┌───┐ box
│         │ box
└───┘ box
╔═══╗ double box
║         ║ double box
╚═══╝ double box
♂ male/men
♀ female/women
♠ spade
♣ club
♥ heart/love
♦ diamond
♪ one note
♫ two notes
♯ Number/#/Hash
☺ Smiley
☼ Sun
=================

You don’t necessarily have to bring up the charmap application… you should be able to copy the characters above, paste them into your own document to save, and then copy-paste them into your own comment in the future.

ITguy on March 19, 2014 at 1:38 PM

ITguy on March 19, 2014 at 1:38 PM

That’s great, I always wonder where those were hidden, thanks.

Flange on March 19, 2014 at 1:48 PM

This politically-motivated behavior is exactly what the FOIA was intended to stop happening.

Once again the Obama Administration has decided to turn established law on its head to completely undo the good intentions of the legislators who passed it and of the President who signed it into law.

Previous Administrations who tried to limit FOIA access to documents faced a severe backlash from groups of various political stripe, who were concerned about excessive government secrecy and use of that secrecy for political purposes, rather than legitimate national security issues or compliance with other privacy law.

Why are those groups being very quiet now? I guess the reason is that to criticize Obama for the same actions Reagan or Bush may have tried, would be racism, or something.

s1im on March 19, 2014 at 1:58 PM

We shalt not question our Lord Liege, Barry the Petulant.
All Hail Barry, All Hail Barry!

Another Drew on March 19, 2014 at 2:00 PM

So, there is a rational reason why Barack Obama is a neutered puppy in mom jeans when dealing with Russia. He doesn’t want to fight BFF Vlad, he wants to be just like him.

Better hit the weight room and start jailing some dissidents.

IndieDogg on March 19, 2014 at 2:04 PM

This politically-motivated behavior is exactly what the FOIA was intended to stop happening.

Once again the Obama Administration has decided to turn established law on its head to completely undo the good intentions of the legislators who passed it and of the President who signed it into law.

Previous Administrations who tried to limit FOIA access to documents faced a severe backlash from groups of various political stripe, who were concerned about excessive government secrecy and use of that secrecy for political purposes, rather than legitimate national security issues or compliance with other privacy law.

Why are those groups being very quiet now? I guess the reason is that to criticize Obama for the same actions Reagan or Bush may have tried, would be racism, or something.

s1im on March 19, 2014 at 1:58 PM

Perhaps they were just Democratic Party boosters in disguise?

slickwillie2001 on March 19, 2014 at 2:13 PM

Shouldn’t rewriting any duly-enacted federal statute require an act of both houses of Congress?

This was exactly what I was thinking, but looks like Kaiser O is above the law…

jimver on March 19, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Somebody please tell me this is being challenged in the courts.

petefrt on March 19, 2014 at 2:37 PM

So, there is a rational reason why Barack Obama is a neutered puppy in mom jeans when dealing with Russia. He doesn’t want to fight BFF Vlad, he wants to be just like him.

Bammy as hard as he could try, could never be just like Vlad. Moochelle on the other hand has potential.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 2:43 PM

Bammy as hard as he could try, could never be just like Vlad.

hawkeye54 on March 19, 2014 at 2:43 PM

As Louie Gohmert said this morning, Ukraine is what happens when a community organizer takes on a former KGB officer.

petefrt on March 19, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Exactly what legal power affords the WH the ability to rewrite the Freedom of Information ACT on it’s own, without Congressional action?

Midas on March 19, 2014 at 4:31 PM

I think if we had a remotely unbiased and honest ‘journalist’-based media in this country, we’d already have impeached this piece of shit, and run half of DC out of town on a rail.

Midas on March 19, 2014 at 4:32 PM

“Most transparent” White House ever rewrote FOIA to exclude its docs

So they’re basically hiding evidence of various crimes.

Shocked.

Dr. ZhivBlago on March 19, 2014 at 5:01 PM

What a totally despicable president. He not only lies blatantly, he tries his best to make it impossible to find out the truth.

Chessplayer on March 19, 2014 at 7:41 PM

So the Fourth Estate is finally waking up to King Barack the Magnificent?

GarandFan on March 19, 2014 at 9:33 PM

…dictator…tyrant…’domestic threat’ to the United States…

easyt65 on March 20, 2014 at 10:26 AM