The Obama administration, the self-proclaimed most transparent in history, has officially shut the doors to White House transparency. Despite a report by Slate in 2008, when then Senator Obama pledged the “most open and transparent transition in history,” President Obama’s administration has ended 30 years of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
According to USA Today, the Obama White House is removing a federal regulation that makes the Office of Administration susceptible to the Freedom of Information Act. It detailed in a federal register document, but in short, the White House is not beholden to a FOIA request. They claim that the removal of the FOIA regulations is in line with court rulings that suggest the president’s house is not subject to requests for information from outside entities, or the American people.
USA Today also reported that another reason the White House made this move is that the “sole function” of the Office of Administration is to advise and assist the president. Therefore, it is not covered under the Freedom of Information Act. As far as the court rulings the White House alludes to, it all started during the previous administration.
A group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a suit with the Office of Administration under the Bush administration. The end result was an appeals court ruling that, since the office is not an “agency,” it does not fall under FOIA. The entire move, and the office it covers, come with a heavy helping of irony.
It comes right smack in the middle of “Sunshine Week,” a week dedicated to advocating government transparency. Anne Weismann of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said the irony was not lost on her.
“The irony of this being Sunshine Week is not lost on me. It is completely out of step with the president’s supposed commitment to transparency.”
The Office of Administration, among other recording keeping, archives emails. Considering the Hillary Clinton email scandal, as the Inquisitr has been reporting on, it does strike one as ironic.
In an attempt to clear up the matter, White House press secretary Josh Earnest alleged that the FOIA removal as “a matter of just cleaning up the records that are on the books,” Russia Today America reported Tuesday afternoon.
“It has no impact at all on the policy that we have maintained since the beginning to comply with the Freedom of Information Act when it’s appropriate. It also has no bearing on the Office of Administration and the role that they do play in ensuring that the administration is the most transparent administration in history.”
The American public can still obtain White House correspondence, according to Russia Today America. However, that will only be through requests filed under the Presidential Records Act, and only five years after an administration has run its course. Somehow that does not seem to be a “no impact” situation, and quite different from a FOIA request.
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