“When I was Won,
I had just begun.”
Do you remember when we were very young – about a minute or two into our first historic term? Big Guy dispatched this memorandum to his minions far and wide.
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. (snip)
Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. (snip)
This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by a party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person. [ed.- small print that means nothing you just read applies unless we say so]
This directive was followed up, during the 2010 “Sunshine Week,” with this official statement:
"As Sunshine Week begins, I want to applaud everyone who has worked to increase transparency in government and recommit my administration to be the most open and transparent ever."
So let’s take a 5 year look at how everything’s working out so far: beginning with Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests, because I’m sure you remember how upset people were with George W. Bush when he refused FOIA requests:
“When it comes to implementation of Obama’s wonderful transparency policy goals, especially FOIA policy in particular, there has been far more ‘talk the talk’ rather than ‘walk the walk,’” said Daniel Metcalfe, director of the Department of Justice’s office monitoring the government’s compliance with FOIA requests from 1981 to 2007.
In fact, much to AP’s dismay, analysis demonstrates that the Won has refused far more FOIA requests than even the greatly maligned GWB!! What’s up with that?
With no signs that we can expect things to get any better:
Administration lawyers are aggressively fighting FOIA requests at the agency level and in court — sometimes on Obama’s direct orders. They’ve also wielded anti-transparency arguments even bolder than those asserted by the Bush administration.
Nor does it seem that we are going out of our way to thank those in our ranks who are trying to make things more transparent:
The administration has embarked on an unprecedented wave of prosecutions of whistleblowers and alleged leakers — an effort many journalists believe is aimed at blocking national security-related stories. “There just seems to be a disconnect here. You want aggressive journalism abroad; you just don’t want it in the United States,” ABC News correspondent Jake Tapper told White House press secretary Jay Carney at a recent briefing for reporters
Take Benghazi for example.
Nearly a year later we still don’t know what really happened and why we didn’t send the cavalry in to save them. That doesn’t mean somebody doesn’t know; it just means that we can’t handle the truth: Sharyl Attkisson, whose multiple FOIA requests were refused, has been trying to uncover the facts, to no avail:
Butt let’s continue our search for transparency in the most transparent administration ever. How about the NSA phony scandal? How well are we doing with transparency with respect to that? It’s a bit hard to tell, as some portions of the evidence requested has been redacted:
So we turn to Obamcare. Surely the Pooh-ba’s signature legislation is a reflection of his signature transparency policy.
You recall that Obamacare started with the promise that it would be discussed openly in order for the citizens to see everything being proposed. And then, the Pooh-ba promised, every citizen would have at least 72 hours to read it and send their comments to their legislators before it was voted on.
Butt we couldn’t work the terms and conditions for broadcasting the
secret closed door bribes and horse trading negotiations required to seal the deal. And because the do-nothing Congress dragged their feet so long on giving in agreeing to our demands reasonable terms for passing the bill so they could find out what was in it, we had to rush the vote through. Because it was Christmas Eve and everyone wanted to get home in time to celebrate the Winter Holiday. So even Congress didn’t get 72 hours to read it so let’s not call it a lie, let’s just say it was a misstatement.
Anyway, the House Oversight Committee is currently investigating certain terms of Obamacare because, having rushed it through so fast we had a few loose ends we tied up unilaterally:
The administration’s decision to expand subsidies to the federally run health insurance exchanges mandated by Obamacare… it is unclear if the law permits the federal government to extend these subsidies to the federally run exchanges.
That should be easy enough to determine, right? Um, under our new transparency provisions:
The House Oversight Committee slammed the Treasury Department on Thursday for withholding documents related to the committee's investigation of the administration's expansion of subsidies in the ObamaCare exchanges.
And then, there’s this CDC study that some critics are calling a violation of transparency by virtue of omission. You see, instead of trumpeting this landmark gun study, commissioned by our own transparent administration, we just ignored it. Because the results neither met nor exceeded expectations:
For example, the majority of gun-related deaths between 2000 and 2010 were due to suicide and not criminal violence. (snip)
If the president was looking to the CDC report for support on how to reduce the threat of firearm-related violence through legislation restricting the rights of American citizens, he was sorely disappointed. Perhaps that’s why so few of the media have publicized the report. In fact, the only establishment media even to mention the report was the Washington Post, which criticized it for not answering questions that it wasn't asked to answer!
So, where does that leave our signature program of transparency in government? Let’s just say it’s evolving:
“In retrospect, ‘open government’ was a bad choice,” former Deputy Chief Technology Officer Beth Noveck wrote in The Huffington Post last year. “It has generated too much confusion. Many people, even in the White House, still assume that open government means transparency about government.”
(Noveck) noted that the White House has subtly shifted from the “open government” theme, setting up a new Web page last year focused on “good government.” A few months later, it rebranded the effort again, as “21st Century Government.”
So, welcome to the world of 21st Century Government. It’s like transparency, only it really isn’t.
All I can say is that this new transparency program, combined with our new gun policy, makes hunting a whole different sport. I’d be very careful about wandering into the 100 Acre Woods if I were the Pooh-ba.
“This--whatever-it-was--has been joined by another--whatever-it-is--and the two of them are now proceeding in company. Would you mind coming with me, Piglet, in case they turn out to be Hostile Animals?"
Cross-Posted on Patriot Action Network