Both left and right are denouncing the latest outrageous action that belies President Obama’s “most transparent administration in history” claim — and mocks the very concept of government openness with its timing.
Monday, National Freedom of Information Day, was part of Sunshine Week. So, for a White House that preaches but doesn’t practice openness, Monday was the perfect day to announce that its Office of Administration no longer will be subject to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations. The administration claims it’s merely aligning FOIA regs with a 2009 court ruling that exempted the Office of Administration, which archives emails, among other functions.
Anne Weismann of the liberal group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, whose lawsuit over millions of deleted Bush administration emails led to that ruling, calls this week’s action “completely out of step with the president’s supposed commitment to transparency.” Tom Fitton of the conservative group Judicial Watch says that “when it became politically inconvenient, they decided they weren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act any more.”
And it’s a pattern, as The Associated Press detailed in a scathing dispatch noting how “more often than ever” the Obama administration censors government files or outright denies access.
A spokeswoman says this White House remains committed to “unprecedented openness in government.” But its actions speak louder than its duplicitous words, making clear that opacity is its real goal.