WH Political Appointees Screening FOIA Requests is not Change I Can Believe In
As president, Barack Obama will restore the American people’s trust in their government by making
government more open and transparent…. Obama will require Cabinet officials to have periodic 21st Century Fireside Chats, restore meaning to the Freedom of Information Act, and conduct regulatory agency business in public.
– Obama for America, September 22 2008
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, an effort that will strengthen our democracy and ensure the public’s trust in their government. We came to Washington to change the way business was done, and part of that was making ourselves accountable to the American people by opening up our government…. Our work is not done. We will continue to work toward an unmatched level of transparency, participation and accountability across the entire Administration.
– President Barack Obama, Sunshine Week Declaration, March 16 2010
Open government is a commitment, though, not a task. Thus the Administration’s efforts to promote open government are, as they should be, still ongoing. Nor is greater transparency desirable in every case and circumstance.
— Steve Crowley, delegated Special Assistant to the President, Sunshine Week Declaration, March 16 2011
Amidst the shift in transparency talk, it turns out that the Department of Homeland Security is using political appointees to screen Freedom of Information requests by citizens for governmental information. Career, non-political staffers at the Department Homeland Security are using words like “crazy,” “meddling,” “nuts” and “bananas” to describe the manner in which Obama administration political operatives were second guessing their work and holding up the release of documents to the public.
Political screening of Freedom of Information Requests is not Change I Can Believe In.