Romney Press Release: Obsessed with Secrecy

Reuters
Reuters

OBSESSED WITH SECRECY

“One Of The Most Disappointing Attributes Of The Obama Administration Has Been Its Proclivity For Secrecy . Obama Should Reread His Pronouncements About Transparent Government.” (Editorial, “Obama’s Secrets,” Los Angeles Times , 10/31/11)

From The Very Beginning, President Obama’s Administration Has Turned Its Back On His Campaign Promises Of Openness And Transparency:

Only Months Into The Administration’s Term, Observers Had Already Noted “A Series Of Cases In Which Obama Officials Have Opted Against Public Disclosure.” “[L]ast week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama’s ‘clean coal’ policies. One reason: the disclosure of such records might impinge on privileged ‘presidential communications.’ The refusal, approved by White House counsel Greg Craig’s office, is the latest in a series of cases in which Obama officials have opted against public disclosure.” (Michael Isikoff, “Obama Closes Doors On Openness,” Newsweek , 6/20/09)

“Since Obama Pledged On His First Day In Office To Usher In A ‘New Era’ Of Openness, ‘Nothing Has Changed,’ Says David Sobel, A Lawyer Who Litigates FOIA Cases.” (Michael Isikoff, “Obama Closes Doors On Openness,” Newsweek , 6/20/09)

In Recent Weeks, “Two Potential Scandals” Within The Administration Have Revealed A “Tinge Of Cronyism” And Yielded Pressure From Good-Government Advocates. “Watchdog groups are ramping up pressure on President Obama’s transparency record after two potential scandals involving his administration’s use of political pressure to help donors secure federal money. The two emerging scenarios appear to bear a tinge of cronyism for Obama’s administration and could severely hurt the president in his 2012 reelection bid if he doesn’t move to strengthen transparency and whistleblower protection laws, according to political experts and the watchdog groups.” (Jordy Yager, “Watchdogs Look To Pressure President Obama After Solyndra, LightSquared,” The Hill , 9/17/11)

The Sunlight Foundation: “‘Disappointed’ In Obama For Not Delivering A More Transparent Government.” “The Sunlight Foundation said it was ‘disappointed’ in Obama for not delivering a more transparent government. If he had taken steps to ensure an open process with each of these instances, he would not find himself facing the level of congressional scrutiny and potential scandal that he is now, said Bill Allison, the editorial director at the Sunlight Foundation.” (Jordy Yager, “Watchdogs Look To Pressure President Obama After Solyndra, LightSquared,” The Hill , 9/17/11)

Last Month, The Los Angeles Times Rebuked President Obama For His Administration’s “Proclivity For Secrecy.” “One of the most disappointing attributes of the Obama administration has been its proclivity for secrecy. . “Now [President Obama's] Justice Department has proposed to allow government agencies to lie about the existence of documents being sought under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA. . This policy is outrageous. It provides a license for the government to lie to its own people and makes a mockery of FOIA. . The Justice Department should discard the rule and start over. And Obama should reread his pronouncements about transparent government.” (Editorial, “Obama’s Secrets,” Los Angeles Times , 10/31/11)

The Obama Administration Is Appealing A Recent Court Ruling In An Effort To Keep Secret Service Visitor Records From Public View:

The Administration Is Waging A Court Battle To Prevent Secret Service Records Of White House Visitors From Being Available To The Public Via FOIA. “The Obama administration is appealing a judge’s ruling that Secret Service records of visitors to the White House complex are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. The Justice Department filed a formal notice of appeal Friday afternoon regarding U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell’s August ruling rejecting arguments that the so-called WAVES records belong to the White House even though they are maintained and used by the Secret Service.” (Josh Gerstein, “Obama Administration Appeals Ruling On White House Visitor Logs,” Politico , 10/14/11)

“The Decision To Appeal . Would Appear To Be In Tension With Obama’s Repeated Pledges To Operate The Most Transparent Administration In History.” (Josh Gerstein, “Obama Administration Appeals Ruling On White House Visitor Logs,” Politico , 10/14/11)

When They Aren’t Suing To Block Public Access To Visitor Logs, Administration Officials Regularly Use Off-Site Locations To Skirt Existing Disclosure Requirements:

Obama Aides Often Hold Meetings With Lobbyists Off Of White House Grounds To Keep Records “Shielded From Public View – And Out Of Secret Service Logs Kept On Visitors.” “Caught between their boss’ anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds – and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident. It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view – and out of Secret Service logs kept on visitors to the White House and later released to the public.” (Chris Frates, “W.H. Meets Lobbyists Off Campus,” Politico , 2/24/11)

“[A]t Least Four Lobbyists . Tell POLITICO They Had The Distinct Impression They Were Being Shunted Off To Jackson Place – And Off The Books – So Their Visits Wouldn’t Later Be Made Public.” (Chris Frates, “W.H. Meets Lobbyists Off Campus,” Politico , 2/24/11)

Obama Aides Have Taken “Hundreds” Of Lobbyist Meetings At A Nearby Coffee Shop. “Another favorite off-campus meeting spot is a nearby Caribou Coffee, which, according to The New York Times, has hosted hundreds of meetings among lobbyists and White House staffers since Obama took office.” (Chris Frates, “W.H. Meets Lobbyists Off Campus,” Politico , 2/24/11)

Even When Visitors Are Processed Through Normal Means, White House Recordkeeping Has Been Shown To Be Incomplete Or Outright Worthless:

White House Visitor Logs “Routinely Omit Or Cloud Key Details About The Identity Of Visitors, Whom They Met With And The Nature Of Their Visits.” “Similarly, the [White House visitor] logs are missing the names of thousands of other visitors to the White House, including lobbyists, government employees, campaign donors, policy experts and friends of the first family, according to an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity. . Yet the Center’s analysis shows that the logs routinely omit or cloud key details about the identity of visitors, whom they met with and the nature of their visits. The logs even include the names of people who never showed up.” (Viveca Novak And Fred Schulte, “W.H. Visitor Logs Leave Out Many,” Politico , 4/13/11)

Obama Aides Require Some Visitors To Sign Agreements That Ensure Perpetual Secrecy Or Insist On Keeping Conversations Off Email:

The Administration Has Established Non-Disclosure Requirements For Certain Meetings, Ensuring That Nothing Will Ever Be Revealed Outside The Meeting Room. “Administration officials recently asked some lobbyists and others who met with them to sign confidentiality agreements barring them from disclosing what was discussed at meetings with administration officials, in that case a rental policy working group. The administration has defended the practice as a way to ‘maintain the integrity of our decision-making process.’ But it has come under fire from lobbyists and a top House Republican, who have criticized the demand that participants sign a ‘gag order’ before being allowed into meetings.” (Chris Frates, “W.H. Meets Lobbyists Off Campus,” Politico , 2/24/11)

Some Lobbyists Claim The Administration Has Taken The Practice Of Not Creating E-Mail Trails Of Lobbyist Contact “To New Levels.” “For years, countless government staffers have been admonished not to write down something they wouldn’t want to read on the front page of The Washington Post. But the Obama administration, some lobbyists say, has taken that approach to new levels. ‘I’ve not seen the Washington Post test enforced so ritualistically as this White House,’ said one lobbyist, who regularly does business with the administration. The veteran lobbyist said no other administration he’s worked with has so often responded to routine e-mail queries with the same three-word response, ‘Gimme a ring.'” (Chris Frates, “W.H. Meets Lobbyists Off Campus,” Politico , 2/24/11)

Year Two Of The Obama Administration – More FOIA Requests Submitted, Fewer FOIA Requests Filled:

In 2010, The Obama Administration Received “Significantly” More FOIA Requests Than In 2009 – Yet Took Action On Fewer Requests Than The Year Before. “Two years into its pledge to improve government transparency, the Obama administration took action on fewer requests for federal records from citizens, journalists, companies and others last year even as significantly more people asked for information. . The administration refused to release any sought-after materials in more than 1-in-3 information requests . It refused more often to quickly consider information requests about subjects described as urgent or especially newsworthy.” (“Promises, Promises: Little Transparency Progress,” The Associated Press , 3/14/11)

“The Government’s Responsiveness Under The Freedom Of Information Act Is Widely Considered A Barometer Of How Transparent Federal Offices Are.” (“Promises, Promises: Little Transparency Progress,” The Associated Press , 3/14/11)

The Obama Administration Has Also Launched One Of The Most “Unexpectedly Aggressive” Campaigns Ever Against Government Whistleblowers:

Under President Obama, The Number Of Prosecutions Of Alleged Leakers Under The Espionage Act Roughly Matches All Prior Administrations Combined. “The Obama administration, which famously pledged to be the most transparent in American history, is pursuing an unexpectedly aggressive legal offensive against federal workers who leak secret information to expose wrongdoing, highlight national security threats or pursue a personal agenda. . Since Obama took office, his administration has initiated five prosecutions of alleged leakers under the Espionage Act – a sum roughly equal to the total number of such prosecutions in all prior administrations combined.” (Josh Gerstein, “Despite Openness Pledge, President Obama Pursues Leakers,” Politico , 3/7/11)

“Advocates Say The Hard-Line Approach . Runs Counter To Obama’s Pledge Of Openness.” “Legal experts and good-government advocates say the hard-line approach . runs counter to Obama’s pledges of openness by making it a crime to shine a light on the inner workings of government – especially when there are measures that could protect the nation’s interests without hauling journalists into court and government officials off to jail.” (Josh Gerstein, “Despite Openness Pledge, President Obama Pursues Leakers,” Politico , 3/7/11)

You Couldn’t Make It Up – The Obama White House Can’t Even Be Transparent About Transparency:

Earlier This Year, President Obama Accepted An Award From Transparency Activists In A Closed-Door Oval Office Meeting That Was Left Off His Public Schedule. “It’s as if the president were to thank environmentalists for an award by serving lunch with paper plates and plastic forks that weren’t recyclable: After a two-week delay, President Obama this week received an award from transparency and good-government advocates in a closed-door Oval Office meeting that wasn’t on his public schedule – a snub that’s angering the folks who met with him.” (Ed O’Keefe, “Obama Finally Accepts His Transparency Award . Behind Closed Doors,” The Washington Post , 3/31/11)

The White House Also Censored Nearly 200 Pages “Of Internal E-Mails About Its Open Government Directive.” “The Obama administration censored 194 pages of internal e-mails about its Open Government Directive that the AP requested more than one year ago. The December 2009 directive requires every agency to take immediate, specific steps to open their operations up to the public. But the White House Office of Management and Budget blacked-out entire pages of some e-mails between federal employees discussing how to apply the new openness rules, and it blacked-out one e-mail discussing how to respond to AP’s request for information about the transparency directive.” (“Promises, Promises: Little Transparency Progress,” The Associated Press , 3/14/11)

What Does The Obama Administration Have To Say About Its Pathetic Record And Litany Of Broken Promises?

“We Are The Most Transparent Administration In History, Without Question.” (Jay Carney, Press Briefing , 9/28/11)

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Related Topics: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, 2012 Elections, News, Republican Party, The Page

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