Friday, April 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

So how's that most open and transparent government in history coming?

So how's that most open and transparent government in history coming?

This piece was published a couple of months ago, but it's suddenly more relevant today:

A minute after he took office, the White House website declared his administration would become “the most open and transparent in history.” By the end of his first full day on the job, Obama had issued high-profile orders pledging “a new era” and “an unprecedented level of openness” across the massive federal government.

But three years into his presidency, critics say Obama’s administration has failed to deliver the refreshing blast of transparency that the president promised.

“Obama is the sixth administration that’s been in office since I’ve been doing Freedom of Information Act work. … It’s kind of shocking to me to say this, but of the six, this administration is the worst on FOIA issues. The worst. There’s just no question about it,” said Katherine Meyer, a Washington lawyer who’s been filing FOIA cases since 1978. “This administration is raising one barrier after another. … It’s gotten to the point where I’m stunned — I’m really stunned.”

David Sobel, senior counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that “despite the positive rhetoric that has come from the White House and the attorney general, that guidance has not been translated into real world results in actual cases. … Basically, the reviews are terrible.”

Yes, I realize that today's bruhaha is the first time that the Obama administration has claimed executive privilege, and that other presidents dating back to Reagan have done so multiple times. But Obama promised he would not be like other administrations -- and yet in key areas like open government or campaign finance that has not at all been the case. So when you say "we're just doing what everyone else did" and you're Barack Obama, that means "you broke your promise."

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