Friday, January 27, 2012

Under Obama, the Freedom of Information Act is Still in Shackles

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Three years ago this past weekend, on his first full day in office, President Barack Obama issued his now infamous memo on transparency and open government, which was supposed to fulfill his campaign promise to lead the “most transparent administration in history.” Instead, his administration has been just as secretive—if not more so—than his predecessors, and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has become the prime example of his administration’s lack of progress [..]

[S]ecrecy won out in the Obama administration almost immediately. In the early months of his presidency, a court ruled that the administration would have to turn over photos related to the Abu Ghraib torture scandal in response to a FOIA request. Knowing they’d likely lose the appeal, Obama supported a new law that could keep information secret even when FOIA would otherwise require disclosure. The bill’s only intention was to create a way to shield photographs of detainee abuse from public disclosure.

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