Indeed there has been little attention given to President Obama's failure to live up to one of his most important campaign promises of 2008.
President Obama has failed to deliver on few promises as miserably as his vow to create a more transparent and open government. Shortly after being sworn into office, he sent a memo to federal agencies promising, “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.”
In many ways his Administration has been more guarded and secretive than previous Administrations, even that of George W. Bush whom he criticized incessantly for such lack of transparency and openness.
President Obama is no different. Whether it’s responding to Congress, media questions, or FOIA requests, this administration is no better than its predecessor. The big difference: Obama is a Democrat. And because he is a Democrat, he’s gotten a pass from many of the civil liberty and good-government groups who spent years watching President Bush’s every move like a hawk.
This article only scratches the surface with examples of this Administration's failure to be more transparent as promised, and a general failure of the media and watchdog groups to hold the President accountable.
The watchdogs shouldn’t be fooled so easily. In March 2010, the Associated Press found that, under Obama, 17 major agencies were 50 percent more likely to deny FOIA requests than under Bush. The following year, the presidents of two journalism societies— Association of Health Care Journalists and Society of Professional Journalists—called out President Obama for muzzling scientists in much the same way President Bush had. Last September, Bloomberg News tested Obama’s pledge by filing FOIA requests for the 2011 travel records of top officials at 57 agencies. Only about half responded. In fact, this president has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all prior administrations combined. And an analysis released Monday by the Associated Press found that the administration censored more FOIA requests on national security grounds last year than in any other year since President Obama took office.
Some of the examples are so glaring that one can only imagine the press and watchdog response had Bush been in the Oval Office.
One of the most glaring examples of Obama’s failure on transparency is his response to the “Fast and Furious” fiasco—the botched attempt by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to find Mexican drug lords by tracking guns smuggled from the United States into Mexico. The debacle came to light when ATF whistleblowers met with investigators working for Sen. Grassley. Grassley sent a letter to the Department of Justice demanding answers; not realizing Grassley already had documents that laid out the operation, officials at Justice responded with false and misleading information that violated federal law. When Grassley pressed the issue, the Justice Department retracted its initial response but refused to say anything more, which has resulted in multiple hearings and subpoenas.
I have to agree with the author of this article who writes,
The occasion is not yet ripe for many in Washington to admit that the Obama administration is no different from those who have come before it. But time will come when the cognitive dissonance between what Obama says and what he does will be too much.
But I feel that the occasion is ripe and the time has come for people to take notice and speak up. Your comments please.