Obama Administration Hits Another Grim Record on Lack of Government Transparency

Katie Pavlich
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Posted: Mar 18, 2015 3:30 PM
Obama Administration Hits Another Grim Record on Lack of Government Transparency

Everybody knows by now that when President Obama promised before taking office in January 2009 that he would lead "the most transparent administration in United States history," he didn't mean it. In fact, you could argue he was planning to do the exact opposite. During Obama's six year long tenure, the administration has become the least transparent in American history and things just got worse. 

According to new analysis from the Associated Press, which is currently suing the State Department for access to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails, the Obama administration has set another record in censorship and a lack of response to Freedom of Information Act requests. Emphasis is mine. 

The Obama administration set a record again for censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn't find documents and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.

It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law - but only when it was challenged.

Its backlog of unanswered requests at year's end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000. It also cut by 375, or about 9 percent, the number of full-time employees across government paid to look for records. That was the fewest number of employees working on the issue in five years.

Unless you have highly paid attorneys working for you, don't expect your FOIA requests for newsworthy information to be answered. Even when an attorney is available, the process of suing takes so long, the information eventually obtained is often ignored and considered old news.

Last year the United States fell to 46th in the world for press freedom according to a ranking compiled annually by Reporters Without Borders. 

Reporters from outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post and other mainstream news outlets have described the Obama administration as "control freak" and the "most closed they've ever covered." It should also be noted the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act more than any other administration to prosecute reporter sources. In 2013, the Obama administration was caught spying on reporters and their parents.  

Opacity breeds corruption, which explains a lot about the legacy the scandal plagued Obama administration will leave behind.