Transparency Accountability

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"President Obama has committed to making his administration the most open and transparent in history" –The White House, January 20 2009

Holding The White House Accountable

  • Politico reports: "It's been a bit of a lonely vigil lately for Mark Knoller of CBS News. At the White House and on Twitter, he's pushing for wider press access to President Obama's fundraisers -- so far with no luck. Obama last week had six fundraisers on the road, and only two were open to radio and TV coverage. Four were open only to the print pooler."
    • "The Obama administration frequently describes itself as the most transparent in history. Reporters working with limited and often shrinking access have a different view."
  • According to the Daily Caller, "Two years after the departure of President George W. Bush, the White House has still not appointed 12 of the mandated 69 agency Inspectors General, and is leaving open slots at several scandal-plagued agencies, including the departments of justice, labor and urban development"
  • Despite pledges to release all White House visitor logs online, “the logs routinely omit or cloud key details about the identity of visitors, whom they met with and the nature of their visits. The logs even include the names of people who never showed up. These are critical gaps that raise doubts about the records’ historical accuracy and utility in helping the public understand White House operations, from social events to meetings on key policy debates." according to this Politico story. Some additional information on this "transparency" from the article:
    • "'If this is transparency, who needs it?' said Steven Aftergood, director of the project on government secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. He called the White House visitor logs 'very thin gruel.'”
    • "The White House agreed to release the data only as a result of settling a lawsuit"
    • "It’s difficult to assess whether a major Obama campaign pledge to limit the influence of lobbyists in his administration has been kept, or if big donors have been given ready access to the White House, which Obama said during his campaign would not happen once he took office."
    • "Another practice calling into question the veracity of the logs: Junior White House staff members routinely list themselves as the 'visitee,' or person being visited, when in fact the visitor has arrived to see someone higher up the chain of command."
  • This explosive report details how the Obama administration is playing favorites with transparency. Organizations and individuals sympathetic to the administration receive the documents they've requested well within the legal 20 day window, while right of center groups and individuals have to wait months for a response, if they receive one at all.
    • Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) wrote this letter to the DOJ in response to the article above.
  • The Washington Post reports that "barely half of agencies [are] meeting Obama’s FOIA request goals".
  • The LA Times reports that the Obama Administration is even censoring its emails about its policy to be more open.
    • "The December 2009 directive requires every agency to take immediate, specific steps to open their operations up to the public. But the White House Office of Management and Budget blacked-out entire pages of some e-mails between federal employees discussing how to apply the new openness rules, and it blacked-out one e-mail discussing how to respond to AP's request for information about the transparency directive."
  • The Daily Caller highlights political interference with FOIA by the Obama campaign arm, Organizing For America.
    • "New emails and testimony from Department of Homeland Security FOIA officer Catherine Papoi reveal that a former Obama campaign staffer repeatedly asked Papoi and her team to redact portions of 'politically sensitive' documents, as well as portions of documents that were already publicly available."

Congressman Darrell Issa's Quest for Information

  • This article from the Wall Street Journal shows how Democrats are trying to stifle Rep. Issa's (R-CA) investigations into the FOIA process. Apparently transparency will "swamp agencies". It's worth noting that Issa's February 15th deadline was not met.