AP: Goverment Secrecy Increasing Under Obama, But It's Not His Fault

APabsolutelyPathetic0109In a week that has been chock full of lame claims, it would not be correct to say that the howler propagated by Sharon Thiemer of the Associated Press on Tuesday is the worst. But it's definitely in the upper echelons.

In an item about government bureaucrats' increased volume and increased level of excuse-making for denying Freedom of Information Act requests, Theimer acts as if the guy in charge of the entire enterprise -- that would be President Obama -- has stood by helplessly while things got worse. One can be reasonably assured that the problems described below would not be treated with such kid gloves if a conservative or Republican occupied the Oval Office:

PROMISES, PROMISES: Is gov't more open with Obama?

Federal agencies haven't lived up to President Barack Obama's promise of a more open government, increasing their use of legal exemptions to keep records secret during his first year in office.

An Associated Press review of Freedom of Information Act reports filed by 17 major agencies found that the use of nearly every one of the law's nine exemptions to withhold information from the public rose in fiscal year 2009, which ended last October.

Among the most frequently used exemptions: one that lets the government hide records that detail its internal decision-making. Obama specifically directed agencies to stop using that exemption so frequently, but that directive appears to have been widely ignored.

Well, if they're being ignored, who's letting them get away with it.

It gets worse:

Major agencies cited that exemption at least 70,779 times during the 2009 budget year, up from 47,395 times during President George W. Bush's final full budget year, according to annual FOIA reports filed by federal agencies. Obama was president for nine months in the 2009 period.

...The prolific use of FOIA exemptions is one measure of how far the federal government has yet to go to carry out Obama's promise of openness. His first full day in office, Obama told agencies the Freedom of Information Act, "which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open government."

Theimer's thesis might ordinarily have a bit of credibility, except for the fact that the President by his own actions and by his own acquiescence to Congressional secrecy-denying actions has made a mockery of his promised of transparency.

I'm still waiting for the promised C-SPAN broadcasts of health care deliberations. I mean, gee, Obama only promised on eight different occasions to ensure that this would happen.

A report that doesn't mention these and other presidential/congressional transgressions and cops out the Chief Executive's responsibility over Executive Branch conduct isn't a news analysis. It's apparatchik propaganda, which the AP has taken to a whole new level since early November 2008.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.