Another broken Obama promise: Openness and transparency

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by NW Spotlight

Obama’s administration: “a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.”

Remember back in January 2009 when President Obama said in a memo to his administration “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.  We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.” It’s still up on the White House web site.

Like so many other promises from President Obama, the reality has been almost the opposite of his promise to the American people. Not surprising from someone who accepted a 2011 transparency award in a closed-door meeting.

Even the fawning sycophants at the NY Times are critical. The executive editor of the NY Times said this week that “The Obama years are a benchmark for a new level of secrecy and control. It’s created quite a challenging atmosphere for The New York Times, and for some of the best reporters in my newsroom who cover national security issues in Washington.”

Last June, an AP article in the Huffington Post reported that the Obama administration “prosecutes leakers like no administration before it. It exercises state-secrets privileges to quash court cases against it. It hides a vast array of directives and legal opinions underpinning government actions – not just intelligence and not all of it about national security. Now it’s known to conduct sweeping phone-records and Internet surveillance of ordinary people in programs kept on the lowdown until an employee of a National Security Agency contractor revealed them.”

CBS News covered a report released last fall that said “The [Obama] administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate.”

Then last month, an analysis by the Associated Press found that “The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.”

A few weeks ago, a frustrated writer on an online progressive news center wrote “In 2008, when campaigning, Barack Obama was often touted as a constitutional-law professor. As such, we can assume he studied writings of one of that document’s authors, James Madison, the fourth president of the U.S., considered the ‘Father of the Bill of Rights.’ Madison wrote, in 1822, ‘A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both.'”