Sunlight is for suckers. The New York Post reported on Tuesday that the White House will not release the $328,835 snapshots taken of the president's Boeing VC-25A that buzzed lower Manhattan. The entire world has seen news and amateur photos and videos of the incident, but if President Obama has his way, taxpayers won't be able to see the flyover photos they paid for with their own money.
This will make for an interesting response to my Freedom of Information Act requests. After the bizarre mission caused distress and panic among countless New York City residents who were intentionally left in the dark about the photo-op stunt, I filed public records requests with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Staff FOIA Requester Service Center.
The first one requests any and all communication -- including e-mail and other public records and including any and all correspondence between the White House Military Office, Department of Defense and other agencies -- related to the planned federal aerial mission over New York City on April 27, 2009. Specifically, I requested all public records related to and including the flight manifests and related to the origin of the request for the mission. The second filing requests any and all photos taken during the planned federal aerial mission approved by the White House Military Office.
What rationale could they possibly use to stifle public disclosure? National security? These were glamour shots to enhance the Air Force One photo portfolio. That's no secret. The White House 'fessed up on that. Withholding the photos serves only one purpose: protecting the backsides of those involved in this botched PR mission.
From Day One, Obama has demonstrated a rather self-serving selectivity when it comes to transparency. The Obama White House rushed to reverse an 18-year ban photographing the flag-draped coffins of troops arriving back on American soil. And at the behest of the American Civil Liberties Union, his administration is set to release at least 21 classified photographs by May 28 showing detainee abuse in prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan. Openness in government is fine if it hurts America's reputation, but not if it harms Obama's.
Moreover, hostility to transparency is a running thread through Obama's cabinet:
-- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for years fought disclosure of massive donations from foreign governments and corporations that filled her husband's library and foundation coffers.
-- Top Obama adviser David Axelrod ran fear-mongering campaigns in support of a huge utility rate hike -- and failed to disclose that the ads were funded for Commonwealth Edison in Chicago.
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