Transparency under the Obama Administration

I have for a time felt that the Obama administration makes a certain effort at appearing to promote good governance and reform-to get popularity-while in actuality pursing its own agenda of selling out the country.  They are not any worse than most administrations, but that is a pretty low bar to put.  I believe that the Obama administration is corrupt, but tries superficially to appear to be noble and good to get support.

Here are some comments from the Electronic Frontier Foundation on the latest concerning the Obama Administration.

Senator Chuck Grassley later stated: “Agencies under the control of President Obama’s political appointees have been more aggressive than ever in withholding information from the public and from Congress,” Grassley said. “There’s a complete disconnect between the President’s grand pronouncements about transparency and the actions of his political appointees.”

Separately, as the Sunshine Foundation noted, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also made their thoughts known about the administration’s approaching to government secrecy, concluding “that many federal agencies have failed to track basic information in response to FOIA Requests. The Department’s of Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice were among the least compliant.”

The Ugly

Unfortunately, in the midst of its Sunshine Week-push to defend its transparency record, the administration also went to Congress to urge them to pass the new “cybersecurity” bill. EFF has detailed its extensive privacy problems, but according to the Washington Post, it would also “keep secret a whole new category of information even under the Freedom of Information Act.” In the process the administration criticized a recent Supreme Court ruling that narrowly interpreted one of FOIA’s many exemptions the government frequently relies on to keep documents secret—a decision hailed by EFF and other open government groups.

Its attitude toward secrecy was also on display in the courts, where the Justice Department released its first batch of documents in EFF’s suit over its secret interpretation of the Patriot Act. While thankfully, the Justice Department finally admitted the interpretation actually exists, the documents it gave EFF told us virtually nothing about the way section 215 is secretly being used.  Separately, Senators Ron Wyden and Mark Udall implored the government to release the secret court rulings on which the interpretation is based, saying, “We believe most Americans would be stunned to learn the details of how these secret court opinions have interpreted section 215 of the Patriot Act.” The Justice Department has, of course, refused.


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