"Most Transparent Administration Ever" Is Still Not
Two House members are demanding information from the Obama administration on obstacles to government transparency.
For years, the Obama administration refused to make public the Justice Department's classified legal opinions on the "targeted killing" of terrorism suspects. But Wednesday's news that the administration will let some members of Congress see the memos explaining the administration's legal justification for killing American citizens does not mean this administration is suddenly "the most transparent administration ever." In fact, forget classified memos: The administration can't even get the Freedom of Information Act right. On Monday, two congressmen demanded the Obama administration answer for its failure to improve the public's access to information through FOIA, under which American citizens can request government documents.
On his first day in office President Obama issued a memo committing to a strong, effective FOIA. "The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails," it read. But filing a FOIA request and getting information back is still a struggle. On Monday, the top members of the House oversight committee, Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) and Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), sent a letter to the Justice Department, which keeps tabs on how FOIA requests are carried out, demanding information on nearly two dozen problems with the Obama administration's FOIA policy. The congressmen point to "outdated FOIA regulations, exorbitant and possibly illegal fee assessments, FOIA backlogs, [and] the excessive use and abuse of exemptions."