The 'Most Transparent Administration In History' Sets New Record In Denying Freedom Of Information Requests

from the no-accountability dept

On the day of his inauguration in 2009, President Barack Obama announced that his administration would be "the most open and transparent in history." It did not take long for that promise to be tossed aside, and it has been clear for quite a while that this administration is perhaps the most secretive in history. A new analysis by the AP of how the administration responds to FOIA requests confirms that it is becoming even more secretive each year:
The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.
Basically, the administration is doing everything possible to keep information secret. Despite President Obama's memo to the federal government upon taking office on the importance of openness in responding to FOIA requests, the government has done exactly the opposite. His memo, you may recall, stated:
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.

All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.

The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should take affirmative steps to make information public. They should not wait for specific requests from the public. All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government. Disclosure should be timely.
Compare that to the reality:
In a year of intense public interest over the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times — a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama's first year, when it cited that reason 3,658 times. The Defense Department, including the NSA, and the CIA accounted for nearly all those. The Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency cited national security six times, the Environmental Protection Agency did twice and the National Park Service once.

And five years after Obama directed agencies to less frequently invoke a "deliberative process" exception to withhold materials describing decision-making behind the scenes, the government did it anyway, a record 81,752 times.
Yes. It appears that "the most transparent administration in history" has never been all that transparent, and it's only getting worse.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
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    silverscarcat (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 12:20pm

    Well...

    It *IS* pretty transparent, for awhile, that Nixon would have given his left kidney to have what Obama has.

     

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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 12:48pm

    It's a matter of differing definitions

    To the public, transparency means an open government, one where the people are able to see, understand, and ultimately guide what the government is doing via their voices and votes.

    Under this definition the government fails abysmally.

    To the government on the other hand, transparency means no pretending. If they're going to consider the citizens as enemies to the state, treat them as criminals, trash their rights, and do everything they can to destroy as much of what made the country great and respected by other nations in the past, well, they at least will be honest about it, with minimal pretending and only a handful of lies to try and cover their real motives up.

    Under this definition the government succeeds with flying colors, and is indeed 'the most open and transparent in history'.

     

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      identicon
      Vel the Enigmatic, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 1:49pm

      Re: It's a matter of differing definitions

      Which only pushes forward the idea that the government has differing definitions for literally everything. The idiotic fool known as Michael Froman has shown us proof of that already. Not even to speak of the lies and deceit he's tried selling the public.

       

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      jupiterkansas (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:08pm

      Re: It's a matter of differing definitions

      i.e. the government does not lie when it tells you it's going to lie, therefore it's honest.

       

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      identicon
      Jose_X, Oct 7th, 2014 @ 12:29am

      Re: It's a matter of differing definitions

      I never saw as many petitions and conversations with government as we are seeing now. Lots of data is more easily accessible.

      Obama is not expected to force bureaucrats to disclose info in the record number of FOIA requests. BTW, I have seen examples cited to potentially protect Republicans. Each agency uses their own judgment.

      And "leaks" are not public information even if they help drive the Press.

       

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  •  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 1:48pm

    No one

    Wanted to see Chicago Barry Sorento... just the charismatic Barack Obama.

     

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    Michael Fortner (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 1:58pm

    Your request

    We're sorry, but your FOIA request on how transparent this administration is has been denied.

     

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    AzureSky (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:08pm

    people thought oBomBa was serious when he said he was pro whistle blower and pro transparency?

    oBomBa was and is a politician, they lie, they tell people what they think we want to hear, in order to get elected.

    I still stand by oBomBa/biden being better then McCain/Palin....palin is to stupid to live....bidens just a corporate shill....

    either way, expecting a Politician to risk the public finding out bad things about them.....very amusing

     

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      jupiterkansas (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:10pm

      Re:

      You missed an election there.

      People knew the truth and he still got re-elected.

      And it's spelled "Obama."

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
         
        icon
        scotts13 (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:29pm

        Re: Re:

        No one has been elected, or re-elected President for many years. Virtually every voter I know has simply acquiesced to the lesser evil.

        And I don't care how obama-lama-dingdong thinks his name is spelled.

         

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          John Fenderson (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 3:11pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I don't care how obama-lama-dingdong thinks his name is spelled."

          You should, because lots of people (myself included) immediately stop listening to anything someone says once they utter a childish name-mangling like that. Wouldn't you prefer to be taken seriously?

           

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        AzureSky (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 1:38am

        Re: Re:

        yeah, rMoney was an even worse option, so people didnt vote for him.

        hell the man makes my skin crawl.....

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      anon, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 3:12pm

      Re:

      Just a quick note, your name calling of the president makes you look stupid and sound like a child, show some self respect and stop name calling the most powerful man in the world and maybe people will spend the time reading your comment instead of reporting it into oblivion.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
         
        icon
        scotts13 (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 5:52pm

        Re: Re:

        "Just a quick note, your name calling of the president makes you look stupid and sound like a child, show some self respect and stop name calling the most powerful man in the world and maybe people will spend the time reading your comment instead of reporting it into oblivion."

        You win. You're MUCH funnier than I am.

         

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        JBDragon, Mar 19th, 2014 @ 12:54pm

        Re: Re:

        Yet this President really doesn't show much respect for the office he holds! He acts like a child when he doesn't get his way as a example. Hey, if congress doesn't do what HE wants, he has a Pen and a Phone!!! That's pretty childish and unconditional, which again he just doesn't care.

         

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:08pm

    Orwell would be saying..... "ha, ha, told ya so"

    queue the new "Ministry Of Transparency and Freedom Golden Eagle Apple Pie"

    The M.O.S.F.G.A.P will en devour to keep the public informed on the reasons for them denying all FOIA requests. Bringing full 100% transparency to the Government.

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Rich, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:33pm

      Re: Orwell would be saying..... "ha, ha, told ya so"

      Why would he say that? "1984" was not about the future. It was about what Orwell saw going on in 1948 (post-war Europe). It was his publisher that suggested transposing the last two digits of the title, to make the book more provocative.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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        That One Guy (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:37pm

        Re: Re: Orwell would be saying..... "ha, ha, told ya so"

        So not so much 'Ha ha, told you so!' as 'AGAIN!? Didn't I warn you guys about this sort of crap decades ago, spelling out quite clearly how bad it was?!'

         

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 3:14pm

        Re: Re: Orwell would be saying..... "ha, ha, told ya so"

        LOLWOT?


        MFW I see "Airstrip One" on the map.
        MFW "The Ministry of Truth" existed in 1948


        I think you are taking something from my comment that was not there. If it was... it would still be legit. 1984 was not "what Orwell saw going on in 1948 (post-war Europe)". 1984 is a science/political fiction.... operative word being fiction.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
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          John Fenderson (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 3:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: Orwell would be saying..... "ha, ha, told ya so"

          Rich is correct -- Orwell's book was a commentary on what was happening in his time, not a prediction of what would come. His commentary came in the form of fiction and exaggeration because that is often the only way to speak about an underlying truth.

          Perhaps what he wouldn't have expected is that his exaggerations would cease looking so like exaggerations over time.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          •  
            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 7:22am

            Rich is ......

            Lol_Nope.avi


            "April 4th, 1984.
            He sat back. A sense of complete helplessness had descended upon him. To begin with he did not know with any certainty that this was 1984. It must be round about that date, since he was fairly sure that his age was thirty-nine, and he believed that he had been born in 1944 or 1945; but it was never possible nowadays to pin down any date within a year or two."

            Part 1, Chapter 1, Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell






            Originally, Orwell titled the book The Last Man in Europe, but his publisher, Fredric Warburg, suggested the change. (Crick, Bernard. "Introduction," to George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984)).


            As for "not meant" for being a prediction of the future... Of course it is not.



            ((Stalinist totalitarianism + consumer capitalism) of Orwell's era) + Time = his book titled 1984


            1984 is about a dystopian future.

             

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              icon
              John Fenderson (profile), Mar 18th, 2014 @ 9:57am

              Re: Rich is ......

              I'm confused -- was this comment meant to rebut my assertions? I get the impression it was, but fail to see the rebuttal.

               

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:10pm

    WHY!?!?!

    Why do the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service even HAVE the ability to cite "National Security" to deny a FOIA request?

    Golly gee... It's like "National Security" is the be-all end-all answer for anything no one in government wants to answer or be held accountable for. Go figure...

     

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    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:19pm

      Re: WHY!?!?!

      National security means job security of the department's senior people. Letting people get access to documents that make the agency look bad threatens this security.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      techinabox, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 11:57am

      Re: WHY!?!?!

      Park Service maintains national works that would be good terrorist targets.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:26pm

    Transparency

    The art of discerning that which might look bad and revealing everything else. Lay it out.





    Hmmm, not much to say?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 2:41pm

    The Administration's windows are made of Germanium and Silicon. No visible light gets through, but a whole bunch of heat does.
    .

     

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    Kronomex, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 3:44pm

    It is the most transparent government ever; one way glass transparent that is.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 3:54pm

    i wonder who is actually making these decisions?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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    Coyne Tibbets (profile), Mar 17th, 2014 @ 4:36pm

    Did anyone read the memo?

    "This memorandum does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person."

    So this was a joke on the departments. It's like telling someone they have to strip for the beach, and after their fear and embarrassment has peaked, shouting, "Only kidding!"

    Or maybe the joke was on us?

     

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  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 4:50pm

    Just Pretending

    Obama says one thing in public, then tells his cronies another in private behind closed doors.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 17th, 2014 @ 6:27pm

    Obama is now synonymous with Piece of Lying Shit.

    As in: No officer, I swear, I wasnt obamaing.

     

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    identicon
    GEMont, Mar 18th, 2014 @ 5:42pm

    All the sheep a company can fleece

    "Yes. It appears that "the most transparent administration in history" has never been all that transparent, and it's only getting worse."

    And pray tell, when ever has any business considered that telling its secrets to the public was a good policy??

    The US Fed is a Fascist Organization, and thus, is a business, plain and simple. It has no intention of disclosing its business secrets to anyone, let alone the people it is fleecing.

    If your waiting for the next administration to be any better, you're going to be extremely disappointed. Once fascism takes over the governing of a nation, there is no direction left beyond straight down hill. The A Team will simply be replaced by the B Team and SNAFU will continue. A decade later the teams will switch again, and again SNAFU.

    If shit starts to unravel, all that is ever necessary is to find a willing enemy with similar population problems and start up a war in his or some poor third-world country.

    Fascism will eventually abandon the USA, once it has stolen everything of value and left its economy and public in ruins, but until then, it will continue to pretend to be a government and rob you all blind, with your full consent.

    To be rid of such a blight, it is always necessary to excise the entire organism in one motion, because, like cancer, it can metastasize elsewhere, if even a small bit is overlooked.

    Of course, before any such action can be under-taken, the public must first become aware that the problem exists.

    Can't see that happening in America - The Complacent Consumer Country.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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