from the transparency? dept
Remember when President Obama took office and one of his first moves, on his very first day in office was to put out a memo
telling the federal government to be more open and transparent in response to FOIA requests? A few quotes from that memo:
A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, "sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants." In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.
The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.
Seems pretty straightforward and certainly sounded like a refreshing change from the ridiculously secret previous administration who hated to share anything if it could avoid it. Unfortunately, it appears that this Day One move was nothing but smoke and mirrors. The current administration has been dreadful
about responding to FOIA requests.
A new lawsuit highlights just how ridiculous things have become. The EFF has sued the government
after the administration refused a FOIA request to reveal who is on the Intelligence Oversight Board, which is a "presidentially appointed, civilian panel in charge of reviewing all misconduct reports for American intelligence agencies." Only problem? In three years in office President Obama has not named a single appointment to the Board. The EFF wanted to find out who's actually handling the duties of the IOB... and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) simply failed to turn over the info
The EFF had filed a request to expedite the FOIA request with the original request on February 15th, which was denied on February 17th. They then appealed the denial on February 28th... and have heard nothing
since then concerning either the appeal or the content requested about the IOB. Remember, the standard response time for a FOIA request is 20 days, and we're talking months of nothing.
What happened to "A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency"?