Sec. of State announced an “e-mail czar” or “transparency czar” to be point person on FOIA and judicial requests for information on the public domain e-mails his predecessor kept on her private bathroom server so they wouldn’t have to be responsive to FOIA and judicial requests.
Secretary of State John Kerry is tapping a “transparency” czar to oversee the department’s preservation of documents.
Ambassador Janice Jacobs, a former career diplomat, will serve as the State Department’s first “transparency coordinator,” Kerry announced Tuesday.
Jacobs previously served as assistant secretary of State for consular affairs and before that post helped revise U.S. visa application practices after 9/11.
She will now lead the department’s efforts to improve systems for maintaining records and responding to public requests and congressional inquiries.
“As I have repeatedly made clear, we have a fundamental obligation to document the conduct of U.S. foreign policy and to produce our records in response to requests from the public and Congress,” Kerry said in a statement.
“Our records, and our ability to share them, serve as testament to our commitment to transparency and open government. I take very seriously that responsibility, and so does everyone else at the State Department.”
Uh-huh. Strangely, the following revelation was not in the announcement of the “transparency czar,” though it seems relevant to the Jacobs’ ability to do her job fairly, and the public’s confidence in her to do so:
State Dept's new 'email czar' to deal with Clinton records requests donated $2,700 to Clinton campaign just weeks ago pic.twitter.com/S2nxW1KgiK
— Ted Bridis (@tbridis) September 8, 2015
The State Department’s response, and Jacobs’, is that this is just a logistics job with no sway over what is released and what is not, and the donation happened literally whole weeks before she was even approached about this:
In an interview, Ms. Jacobs said she made that donation as a private citizen and months before she had entered into conversations with the State Department about her new role. She retired from the State Department in June 2014; moreover, federal employees aren’t barred from donating to campaigns.
“I think that the announcement lays it out pretty clearly what Secretary Kerry has hired me for and it’s not just the Clinton emails, but in general to make sure that the department is as responsive and efficient as it can be in handling the various document requests that come in,” she said. “He just wants to make sure it’s all well-coordinated and that deadlines are met and that we just look proactive and responsive.”
“Look proactive and responsive” is a good way of stating Kerry’s goals. “Look fair and above reproach” doesn’t even make it into the equation.
I’m sure Jacobs will intend “in her heart” to do the right thing, no matter what actually happens. Just like the woman whose e-mails she’ll be attempting to piece back together for the public.