Washington Post: President Obama’s Pledge of “Unprecedented Openness” Violated By Closed, Secretive Administration

220px-Washington_Post_buildingPresident_Barack_ObamaWe have previously discussed the criticism of reporters, newspapers like the New York Times, and international groups that President Obama has run one of the most hostile Administrations in history to press freedom and public openness. Now that Democratic stalwart, the Washington Post, has joined in the chorus of critics, detailing the secretive, almost Nixonian culture of the Obama Administration in a new article.

The article by Paul Farhi, details the story of how the Obama Administration actively blocked the efforts of Palm Beach Post reporter Stacey Singer in her effort to confirm reports of a tuberculosis outbreak in the Jacksonville area.
The Post notes

“Singer’s experience is shared by virtually every journalist on the government beat, from the White House on down. They can recite tales with similar outlines: An agency spokesman — frequently a political appointee — rejects the reporter’s request for interviews, offers partial or nonresponsive replies, or delays responding at all until after the journalist’s deadline has passed.

Interview requests that are granted are closely monitored, reporters say, with a press “minder” sitting in. Some agencies require reporters to pose their questions by e-mail, a tactic that enables officials to carefully craft and vet their replies.

Tensions between reporters and public information officers — “hacks and flacks” in the vernacular — aren’t new, of course. Reporters have always wanted more information than government officials have been willing or able to give.

But journalists say the lid has grown tighter under the Obama administration, whose chief executive promised in 2009 to bring “an unprecedented level of openness” to the federal government.”

What is fascinating is that despite a record of investigating reporters, tapping their phones, and threatening them with jail (as well as a scorched Earth campaign against whistleblowers), many reporters remain largely muted in their criticism and privately support the Administration. It is a remarkable disconnect in the media. That has not changed even after last summer when 38 organizations representing journalists and press-freedom advocates accused the Administration of “politically driven suppression of news and information about federal agencies” and referred to the Obama Administration’s restrictions on media as “a form of censorship — an attempt to control what the public is allowed to see and hear.”

This month, the nonprofit Center for Effective Government gave eight of the 15 agencies a “D” for their compliance (or lack of compliance) with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The highest performing agency was the Department of Agriculture with a mediocre “B.” Two agencies received “F” grades: The Department of State and Department of Health and Human Services. The “D” group included two D minus grades for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Defense. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was among the D grades. What is really frightening is that having two failures and eight near failures with Ds was a slight improvement for the Administration. With only two years left, the Obama Administration has racked up one of the most closed and secretive records of any modern presidency.

Just for the purposes of historical record, President Obama ran on creating the most transparent Administration in history and then made this pledge in 2009 specifically referring to FOIA to the American people:

80 thoughts on “Washington Post: President Obama’s Pledge of “Unprecedented Openness” Violated By Closed, Secretive Administration”

  1. Tom, I see what you are writing as another form of propaganda. You say that people should shut up and do nothing. This “admonishment” serves the powerful.

    Perhaps you vote for the same people over and over again, but not all of do so. Even people who voted for Obama in 2012 should stand against his wrongdoing.

    Acquiescence to injustice is exactly what the powerful want from us. However, as citizens, we should never acquiescence and remain silent in the face of injustice.

    Yours is the council of despair and obedience to authority. As citizens we should do neither.

  2. Karen,

    I agree. There are no accountable agencies in the federal govt.–they all function as part of the emperium! I also agree that it is much better for people to work together to solve problems. There is usually an answer that can work for most every person involved in a problem. It takes a good will, a lot of patience and a real desire to make things right for as many parties as possible. Working for a common good, a common solution is unlikely to happen now because USGinc. has no desire to make things right for the many. It serves only a very small few and cares nothing about anything else.

  3. There are a lot of good points here, but even when things are transparent, not much gets done about it. For example, the immigration problem. Obama is openly encouraging illegal immigrants to come here in large numbers.

    There is absolutely no school of economic thought which holds that a problem with unemployment at all skill levels, including large numbers of unskilled workers will be solved or improved by bringing in large numbers of unskilled immigrants.

    But, there is a political school of thought which would find that a good thing. The same political school which once provided bread and circuses. Sooo, the Democratic Party is opening bringing in a new class of people who will be poor, barefoot, and pregnant for a generation or two—all for the votes. And, while fighting requirements for Voter ID. It’s a twofer. One American doesn’t get a job and stays poor, and a new Mexican either gets no job, or a low paying one so he stays poor.

    This isn’t hidden, It is right out there in the open, transparent as can be.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  4. Great comment, Karen. But, like Baghdad Bob, our Canadian friend likes to bloviate and run to a bunker. He’ll be back out in a while.

  5. If a Republican wins in 2016 all the Democrats and liberals will suddenly be obsessed with “openness” and “ethics in Government” again. And the liberal MSM will once again “Speak truth to power” – but until then they don’t care.

  6. Isaac:

    “Let me see, Obama care is more working than not, the Arabs are finally policing their own terrorists, Negotiations with Iran have consolidated more countries attempting to impose restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program than before, the economy while not perfect is far advanced from the turmoil and depression left by the three stooges, Iraq is making headway in pushing back the terrorists, Afghanistan realizes that it needs US troops there for a longer time period and Obama is complying, but but but Obama is acting like every other President with regards to arrogance and playing his cards close to his chest. So, let’s go get him.”

    #1 – Even the architects of Obamacare admitted that it is unaffordable. That is why they delayed the employer mandate. That is not called “working.”
    #2 – the Arabs only address direct threats to their own power. They are not “policing their own terrorists.”
    #3 – Iran’s nuclear talks are a joke. The Supreme Leader goes on TV saying “Death to America!” and they’re going to build nuclear reactors as fast as possible. They’re not even hiding that they are making John Kerry look like a donkey. It’s giving Israel fits. I wonder if the Left will feel bad if Israel is bombed and millions of people die, and we get the environmental catastrophe of a nuclear WWIII, all because we let Iran play us for fools.
    #4 – There is heavy fighting in Iraq. It’s hardly “problem solved.”
    #5 – Obama is not acting like every other president. Don’t you read Professor Turley’s blog? This article? He’s the worst president in history in regards to press freedom, and he’s added more debt than ALL other presidents in our ENTIRE history, COMBINED. He personally caused my health insurance to go from affordable to unaffordable. Yes, there have been presidential misdeeds in the past 240 years. Our president is the worst on several levels because we don’t take the trouble to check him. And because of that, will the trend continue with our next president?

  7. Tom Blanton

    I do agree that people don’t generally want truth in their politics. There are exceedingly few exceptions of people who have been honest and won an election at this level.

    1. TJustice – there is a whole theory about getting elected. As a potential candidate you want to be elected because you can do X. However, to get elected you have to agree to support Y and Z. Then, once you are elected, to get X passed, you have to support A, B, C and D, so their supporter will vote for X. And don’t forget you still have to vote for Y and Z.

  8. Tom Blanton

    By America, you mean voting America. First, America did not become a “democracy” until the majority of its citizens could exercise the right to vote; thus, it hasn’t been that long for these generations to actually decide. Second, American’s aren’t stupid enough to vote often. Many people understand the system is generally rigged and few candidates are actually worthy of a vote. The turnout for our presidential election is less than 65% each of the past two elections (and generally is lower throughout history).

    1. TJustice – was talking to a friend today about the 2016 election and she was asking if I had a candidate yet. I said I did not. However, I have a couple I will NOT vote for.

  9. Jill:

    “Jim22, How is the EPA a gestapo? The EPA is not more transparent than any other agency within this govt. It’s pretty well gutted and works for the corporate-USGinc. consortium.

    The original idea of the EPA was to preserve clean air, water and earth for all of us. So, no, I’m not against clean air, water and earth. We can’t live without those things.”

    You have actually touched on what the Left seems oblivious to. Anyone who wants to reform the EPA is branded as someone who wants kids to swim in raw sewage. But the EPA, like just about every other government organization, has run amuck and needs reform, transparency, AND accountability. It’s run by people who are not elected, and not accountable. They recently made a sweeping change to the definition of “waterways” that now applies to just about any topography of land that funnels water anywhere at anytime. So if you live by a mountain, and the rainwater runs in a ditch for 24 hours after a storm, that is now a “waterway” that requires permits by the EPA for, say, farming. It just put vast amounts of farmland and residential land under its purview.

    So, calling for the reform or end of the EPA does not mean we do not want clean air, soil, and water. But government agencies seem to be completely drunk on their own power and just plow right over non-government employees.

    Perhaps the EPA should be replaced with a better organization that is answerable for its actions, reasonable, effective, and not in anyone’s pockets – not Big Oil and not Big Government.

    I am related to a scientist who has worked with government agencies such as the BLM. He has given me examples of what such agencies can accomplish when they work in partnership with land owners, ranchers, and farmers, compared to the fight to the bitter end that happens when they dictate unworkable policies to those same people.

    The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has also made its fair share of scandalous decisions, as well.

    There is a lot of debate as to how best to reform the EPA. We could improve the federal agency we already have, replace it with a whole new one, or break it up to a state level agency. There are many who would silence the entire debate as immoral, somehow, or anti-environement.

    But as those who follow this blog will realize, government is becoming more imperial and less answerable, and its individual agencies are no different.

  10. err, Obamatown. You think someone might actually have some intelligence then they spout BS like that. Damn shame.

  11. Baghdad Bob had nothing on Isaac. He will lead the cultists to Jonestown.

  12. Let me see, Obama care is more working than not, the Arabs are finally policing their own terrorists, Negotiations with Iran have consolidated more countries attempting to impose restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program than before, the economy while not perfect is far advanced from the turmoil and depression left by the three stooges, Iraq is making headway in pushing back the terrorists, Afghanistan realizes that it needs US troops there for a longer time period and Obama is complying, but but but Obama is acting like every other President with regards to arrogance and playing his cards close to his chest. So, let’s go get him.

    The more the right wing nuts, leaderless, hopeless, and pathetic, whine and whimper, the further away they get from offering any solution whatsoever. There is yet to be a realistic proposal from the right, going on seven years.

    1. Issac, you won’t hear if you don’t listen. Many ideas have been offered to correct ACA problems. It’s going to be like fixing Italy!

  13. America loves liars. Voters always elect the best liars money will buy. A politician that tells the truth (as if that is possible) could not get elected. It’s the same way with TV news, the minute a viewer is told the truth about anything, they grab the remote and change the channel.

    So, everyone, quit complaining and pretend like everything’s wonderful. You’ve voted and you got just what you voted for year after year, generation after generation.

  14. We have another thread about ethics in CIA. Let’s talk of journalist’s ethics. The comments in the Post article show two sides of ethics in DC. Those lacking in the White House AND the lack of reportage on these complaints. Why aren’t they telling the American people how they can give no information because they can get no information?

    If Bush had spent 2000 telling everyone about transparency and his promises to be as transparent as possible, bills would be available on the internet so people could let their thoughts be known to their representatives. Well, the shouting when it didn’t happen would have been ear shattering. Obama has done none of what he promised. No transparency, no bills on the Internet and insurance for those without any.

    Oh, we misunderstood him when he promised “if you like…” And now 11 million people are on ACA. We had 43 million uninsured. No one tells you if the 11 million had insurance whose rates were too high and turned to ACA. Or how many of the 11 million are actually people who didn’t have insurance.

    And do you know why journalists are stupid? Because the ACA is about insurance, not health care. But Obama says more people have health care than ever before! Let’s see some actual stats. Insurance is not health care! Why is that so hard to understand? The fact that a woman drives by her previous doctor’s office on her 45-minute trip to get care because that’s where they tell her she must go ought to be called out.

    There is so much garbage about insurance and health care and the American people don’t know it because journalists aren’t journalists anymore. They are lackeys for Obama.

    Journalism is “who, what, when, where, why, and how. It isn’t “how did it feel the first time you were behind your desk in the Oval.” It isn’t submit your questions prior to the press conference. If every so-called reporter would refuse to do that, it would change. Listening to Obama’s “stream of consciousness” or the Press Secretary lying right in front of you is not reporting.

    The media, in every form, has forgotten to ignore their personal politics and tell the American people the truth. Right now I wouldn’t be surprised if reporters started bringing pom-poms and painting their bare chests at press conferences. Is anyone ever going to question absurdity. Two years to build a website, with no checkpoints along the way, and costing millions and millions of the money the people who are working send in?

    Pass a bill nobody read? A HUGE bill and people voted without reading it? Why do you have staff? Everybody who voted for that bill is an idiot. Every single one. Eric Cantor told Obama in the one-day meeting Obama and the Democrats gave the Republicans “everybody is going to pay for stuff they don’t need, like maternity coverage for a couple in their sixties, as an example.” And Obama said “that will be fixed.” But nobody fixed it. My doctors now have another person in the room with a computer entering our appointment discussions. The invasion of privacy is totally overlooked. But the doctor has to hire an additional person to do all that.

    Congress could probably do a better job if only 10% actually voted. The 10% who know what’s in a bill! The President signed it without knowing everything in it! If socialism gets a bigger foot in the door than it already has, welcome to no toilet paper on the shelves! Having another family move into your home because you have more space than you need. You will love it because it’s supposed to be more fair. Talk to people who came here from Russia. It’s like reliving the life they wanted to get away from herei in the U.S. of A!

  15. Seems even the cultists aren’t defending their Jim Jones like prez on this. They are saving their energy for when the fat, lesbian, liar, runs for prez. They’ll need it.

  16. Politicians will be politicians! What is the U.S. Supreme Court’s excuse for not checking the executive branch?

  17. The press got into bed with Obama when he was a candidate. It is hard for them to complain about his lack of transparency now. Actually, it is hypocritical. Harry Reid is right, they are whiners.

  18. Richard and Belieever,

    I see what you are writing as a form of propaganda, with no basis in fact. I cannot say whether you believe what you are writing or if you are just one of the paid people who write propaganda for the administration. Either way, what you said is in conflict with reality.

    Obama has not shown any hatred of white people. His best friends are not black radicals but (mostly whilte) banking and war contracting officials who have stolen trillions of dollars from US citizens. He has even given Jamie Dimon a pair of presidential cuff links to show their deep and abiding friendship.

    Obama works for some of the wealthiest people in the US. His administration works with a fine Christian young man, Eric Prince of Blackwater. He works with many other fine companies like Booze Hamilton, Halliburton, etc. While these companies are multinationals, they would not be considered black owned, socialist run corporations.

  19. Jim22, How is the EPA a gestapo? The EPA is not more transparent than any other agency within this govt. It’s pretty well gutted and works for the corporate-USGinc. consortium.

    The original idea of the EPA was to preserve clean air, water and earth for all of us. So, no, I’m not against clean air, water and earth. We can’t live without those things.

    As to religion. Unless you want to change our govt. to one which is controlled by religion, (the opposite of what our Constitution calls for), then we need to foremost abide by secular law. This protects everyone’s religious rights. As of now, Mormonism and Islam are two of the fastest growing religions in the world. If you truly believe that our govt. should be a religiously run govt. then you will need to accept that it may not be your religion of choice which will control the govt.

    So for example, some religions do not believe white people should marry black people. I support their right to believe this, to preach it and to petition the govt. to prevent this type of marriage. However, we have a secular govt. which forbids discrimination of this type. They may not ignore secular law and forbid service to a black and white couple based on religious ideology. If they do feel very strongly about not serving black and white couples, they could consider civil disobedience on behalf of their cause. In this case, they might go to jail but it should be worth doing to them to show their commitment to forbidding the serving or even association with a black and white couple.

  20. A false administration was illegally and unconstitutionally ensconced by sinister foreign/international forces in the American environment of acquiescence to inane and insatiable minorities. A dearth of transparency is the least of America’s worries.

    The President is, and is the son of, an American and European-hating anti-colonialist from Africa with and Iranian Chief of Staff. Talk about “foreign allegiances.”

    The Washington/Jay letter of 1786 placed a “strong check” against “foreign allegiances” of the commander-in-chief as it increased the requirement for President from “citizen” to “natural born citizen” as defined by the “Law of Nations” as “…born in the country of parents who are citizens.” The Founders made it law that Barrack Obama could not become President.

    Americans succumbed to the ever-caterwauling, “victim du jour” minorities of the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” the original restricted-vote republic was ultimately nullified by vote manipulation and the unconstitutional became constitutional. Apparently, the SCOTUS was on vacation or perhaps was a co-conspirator.

    What goes around comes around. In foreseeing current events and legislating against them, the Founders were even more brilliant that first thought.

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