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Despite promises, Obama’s open government record found wanting

White House, seen from the South Lawn. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) White House, seen from the South Lawn. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

An Associated Press study Monday found that, despite promises of openness and transparency, the Obama administration is not proving itself to be the most transparent administration ever.

“More often than ever,” the study found, “the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.”

What’s more, and this will hardly come as a shock to most reporters who’ve tried to pry information from various agencies, most agencies took longer to answer requests for records under FOIA. Administration officials note the government has gotten record numbers of such requests to deal with.

Then, at the very end of the article, spotted this quote from John Cook, departing editor at online site Gawker, who had asked for emails between journalists and Philippe Reines, former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s spokesman – a prolific e-mailer, known for some incendiary blasts. (We received a few.) The PAC, a GOP opposition research firm, asked journalists if they had one from him.

Well, most of ours apparently purged out over the years. Our last from him was an innocuous one a week before he left the State Department, just a simple listing of the 112 countries Clinton visited during her tenure.

Still, Cook told AP, that State “said there were no records” of emails between Reines and reporters.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.



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Al Kamen · March 17, 2014

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