Last week was Sunshine Week, the once-a-year celebration of transparency in government. And as The Washington Post noted, this is as good a time as any to focus on the record of the Obama administration, which promised to be the most transparent in history:
It’s Sunshine Week — an annual review and acknowledgment of open government and transparency efforts at the local, state and federal level — and another opportunity to review how well the Obama administration is doing in releasing government information into the open.
In a speech Monday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the administration has “made meaningful, measurable progress in improving the way our Department – and its partners and counterparts – respond to disclosure requests.”
The Attorney General then threw some suspect numbers around to justify his claim that transparency has improved during the Obama regime.
Well, we have some stats of our own: Since President Obama took office, we have filed 877 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. In nearly every case, we have had to fight tooth-and-nail to obtain records. And in 75 instances, we’ve had to resort to filing FOIA lawsuits in court after the Obama administration stonewalled our requests. We would sue more, but we only have so many lawyers on staff!
One year ago, during Sunshine Week, I testified before Congress on the issue of transparency, and I gave the Obama administration a failing grade. Here’s a bit of that testimony, which you can read in full here.
Essential to Judicial Watch’s anti-corruption and transparency mission is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Judicial Watch used this tool effectively to root out corruption in the Clinton administration and to take on the Bush administration’s penchant for improper secrecy….
…The American people were promised a new era of transparency with the Obama administration. Unfortunately, this promise has not been kept.
To be clear: The Obama administration is less transparent than the Bush administration…The Bush administration was tough and tricky. But the Obama administration is tougher and trickier.
Nothing over the last year has suggested to me that transparency has improved in this administration. In fact, it’s gotten worse. Much worse.
Consider the Navy Seal raid that killed Osama bin Laden. On the one hand, the Obama administration stonewalls our basic request for records, including the bin Laden death photos, citing national security concerns. On the other hand, the Obama administration reportedly leaked classified details regarding the raid to a Hollywood director for a film set to be released just before the elections. (You can expect this film to be one long Obama campaign commercial.)
This is just one example of many, as I noted in some detail in my speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference last month. From Fast and Furious to Solyndra to Fannie and Freddie, the Obama administration plays games with FOIA law. When information makes the Obama administration look good, they leak it. When it makes them look bad, they withhold it. That’s not transparency. That’s politics at its worst. As far as Sunshine Week is concerned, Obama and his appointees have buried transparency, however much they praise it.