On Jan 21st, 2009 one day after being sworn into office, the president signed an executive order pledging a new era of open government. Today, Bloomberg published a report on whether or not the administration has lived up to the president’s promise. How'd the administration do? Of the 20 cabinet level federal agencies Bloomberg petitioned under the Freedom of Information Act for information about out of town travel expenses for their top officials--19 completely ignored the law. Bloomberg reports:
In all, just eight of the 57 federal agencies met Bloomberg’s request for those documents within the 20-day window required by the Act.
About half of the 57 agencies eventually disclosed the out-of-town travel expenses generated by their top official by Sept. 14, most of them well past the legal deadline.
Bloomberg reporters in June filed FOIA requests for fiscal year 2011 taxpayer-supported travel for Cabinet secretaries and top officials of major departments. Justice Department official Melanie Ann Pustay said in an interview that disclosure of those records is in the public interest.
Even agency heads who publicly announce their events -- including Holder, Secretary of StateHillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius -- didn’t provide the costs of their out-of-town trips more than three months after the initial request.
Christopher Horner has written extensively about this behavior which he dubbs the “The Liberal War on Transparency,” and has a new book due for release October 2nd on the subject. Horner writes in a recent op-ed for the Washington Examiner:
"Administration officials, from the highest levels of the White House down to career liberal activists in government, use private email accounts to hide public business. Private computers, too. Even systems that automatically destroy, from the outside, all trace of public records.
They've ordered the creation of secret email accounts for the most senior among them, who are unquestionably subject to FOIA. To protect from scrutiny specific appointees or outside groups' influence, they employ what spies call "tradecraft": handles and cutouts.
Obama and liberals just aren't that into transparency when they're in charge. Their opponents must bare all. The most transparent administration in history has turned transparency on its head. "
Horner joined "Real News" Friday to discuss how this administration has not only failed kept its promise on transparency, but is arguably worse than his predecessor. Watch a clip from Friday's show below: