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  • What Transparency Looks Like to the Obama White House

    FOIA documents

    Things that are transparent: Saran Wrap, glass, water. Things that aren’t transparent: brick walls, mountains, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

    Or so it would seem, if you take a look at the CEQ’s response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request issued by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, in which the Chamber asked for the release of documents relating to agency records on global warming.

    As the Chamber notes, “CEQ had identified 87 documents totaling 759 pages that were responsive to our request. HOWEVER, they could not release most of the documents because they ‘originated’ with another agency.”

    So what did CEQ produce? An entirely blacked-out, redacted, Sharpie-markered e-mail, pictured above. (You can also take a look at a PDF of the document, courtesy of the Chamber.)

    The Chamber says the response to their FOIA is astonishing, given President Barack Obama’s call for transparency beginning with day one in office:

    On his very first full day in office, President Obama sent a memorandum to his executive agencies extolling the virtues of transparency and open government and directing them to facilitate public access to information. To further that directive, Obama issued a second memorandum encouraging agencies to “adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure” when responding to public requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):

    “The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. …In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public. All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.”

    This isn’t the first case of a less-than-transparent White House.

    In January, we wrote about another case of executive office stonewalling relating to the Justice Department’s dismissal of a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther party. As Heritage’s Hans Von Spakovsky wrote, “The department has denied requests for information about the case from newspapers and members of Congress, and is refusing to comply with subpoenas issued by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.” Von Spakovsky detailed other cases of obfuscation, too.

    Then there’s the lengthy behind-closed-doors health care reform negotiations that took place in January, despite President Obama’s repeated campaign pledge to broadcast meetings in public and on C-SPAN. Who was involved in those meetings? President Obama, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and nine other lawmakers. Separately, three union presidents also met behind-closed-doors with administration officials, presumably about health care. Politico noted: “Those involved in the talks sought to keep details of their progress under wraps.”

    While Thursday’s lengthy health care summit took place in front of cameras, it occurred well after President Obama’s health care proposal was hammered out. Transparency came awfully late in the process.

    Given the rash of stories about serious flaws in data and conclusions pertaining to global warming, policymakers must be open, honest and transparent about the underlying data that form the basis for calls to enact radical – and economically devastating – environmental policies. Openness should prevail, so the American people can be informed.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    29 Responses to What Transparency Looks Like to the Obama White House

    1. Ross Peckinpah says:

      Thank you Heritage Foundation for getting information like this out to people so we know what is really happening behind the teleprompter.

    2. James Bailey says:

      Imagine the outrage from the media had the Bush White House sent this type of document to a group or individual under the FOIA. It would have caused lengthy editorials and been the subject to constant media scrutiny. What are they trying to hide? However, when Owebama does it, not a peep.

    3. Rick Katy, TX says:

      Ain't transparency grand? BO talks the talk, but can't walk the walk. Typical. BTW, the senate is trying to push through the "global warming" legislation fiasco and the msm is quiet as usual. Thank goodness for the Internet and




    4. infinitewisdom4u says:

      it is important to recognize how arrogant our federal govt. has become overall. in denying access to or hiding information that should be made available to the citizens of america at any time, disregarding real national security sensitive information, the truth is that the behemoth bureaucracy is a monster in charge of the master, the elected officials. for those that believe obama wanted real transparency, theirs was wistful thinking at best and complete ignorance of facts and history at worst. until REAL leadership with integrity is injected into washington politics, it will not be possible to affect any type of change.

      what has happened in the pursuit of political partisan dominance is that virtually every govt. dept. has been conscripted, or they have volunteered, into the political fray as a political combatant instead of just performing their function in the interests of the UNITED STATES.

      speaking of leadership and integrity,,,notice how difficult that is when you have a person, like sarah palin, who is constantly torn down by left and right. even though she has shown that she is willing to take on special interests and eradicate corruption in her own party and govt., she is viewed with disdain by so many thanks to the continuous onslaught of false character assassination. whether she is qualified is for another debate but it is interesting to notice the contrast of her, from battling corruption and taking on special interests on the behalf of the people in her state, to obama who is a product of chicago politics, notorious for its level of corruption, and is boosted by the corrupted political machine. obama has not dared to instigate actions to uncover and remove subversive forces within the illinois political machine and yet he is viewed as more acceptable to voters. this is the state of our politics,,,,and why we have a govt. that constantly encroaches on our freedoms. our choices of politicians, with obvious character flaws, easily allows those with dominate self-interest drives, to generate or support laws, or perform actions, which help preserve their status while reducing every day consitituents freedoms.

    5. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      I think you're right Mike, Obama's White House will do anything to be viewed as celebrity action heroes. Anything that even indicates mere human error is blacked out. Throughout our founding history, our forefathers openly faced and admitted their failings so as to clear the air of politicized stench.

    6. Steven D. Fox, Tracy says:

      Not so astonishing when you consider the nature of the beast. He has lied, cheated and otherwise done what he feels is necessary to get what he wants. When his first year track record is compared the that of an infamous German leader of the late 1930's they almost exactly parallel each other. He just hasn't gotten to national gun and human registration at this point. But given time, he will.

    7. Steven D. Fox, Tracy says:

      not so astonishing when considering the nature of the beast.

    8. Pingback: What Transparency Looks Like to the Obama White House | The Foundry: Conservative Policy News. « Cajun Conservatism

    9. Pingback: What Transparency Looks Like to the Obama White House | The … : PlanetTalk.net - Learn the truth , no more lies

    10. Glenn Tomko says:

      I do believe a man speaks of promises too good to be true often are just that. Todays political arena follows much of the same successes as commercials do on tv. Promise the impossible and watch the masses buy your crap. Thank the high heavens americans are begining to open their eyes and hearts to the truth.

    11. Fabrice B, Annandale says:

      This is just pathetic and undermines the whole process. Why even bother sending the document in the first place. This is the kind of absurd response I would expect from a Chavez or a Castro.

    12. henry butler says:

      who is going to be the courageous person at the chamber who files suit? you don't really have to put up with this crap…who at the chamber will press for the congress to defund the CEQ and its useless sister organizations? when is someone going to use their constitutional rights and privileges to stop this out of control administration? stop the handwringing and do something!!!

    13. DavidD says:

      Surely this has to be someone's idea of a joke, right?

    14. john, richmond, va says:


      I think it would be good if the author of this blog knew what a FOIA was, and how legally it is implemented. It makes sense to accuse an agency of not filing compliance, but if you do not know the law then you should probably review it before making an accusation. It is sloppy, and makes heritage look bad.

      CEQ was following the law. Learn it.

      - JJB

    15. Pingback: As Transparent As Mud : Conservative Compendium

    16. Pingback: White House transparency… « Time for Thorns

    17. Drew Page, IL says:

      As Ms. Pelosi reminded us not too long ago, "President Obama said a great many things during the campaign".

      I remember a lot of promises candidate Obama made, including the posting of all proposed legislation on the internet for five days before acting on it; of exercising line item veto authority on earmarks included in legislation; of gathering doctors, nurses, representatives of pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies and other health care providers, along with Congressional leaders to debate health care reform in front of C-SPAN cameras — so the American people could see who was representing their interests, as opposd to their own interests. I remember how he said the Stimulus bill was going to limit unemployment to no more than 8%. I rememer how he said that people making less than $250,000 a year would not see their taxes increase as a result of his health care reform legislation.

      I especially remember how he promised that his administration would be the most transparent of all.

    18. philip says:

      Transparency in the Obama adminastrarion is only if you veiew it his way, all other ideas are void .

    19. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      John of Richmond, please be more specific about the FOIA requirement that a document be entirely blacked out on a non-security topic like the agency's records supporting their decisions on global warming. Please share your expert knowledge about such a law.

    20. Tim Az says:

      That's ok we have some redacting of our own to do in the coming elections of 2010 and beyond. I mean corrections.

    21. Lloyd Scallan - New says:

      Is this a surprise to anyone. Obama has yet to speak or read one word of truth

      or keep a single pledge from day one of the campaign. His ideology is such that

      if he did allow the American people to learn who and what he really is, there would be a major upheaval in this country. Why do you think he wants his

      250,000 man ARMY in place.

    22. Jeanne Stotler,Woodb says:

      Maybe someone should send a copy of the defination of TRANSPARENT, when I went to school the Nun who was teaching us in third or fourth grade showed us a piece of cellophane and explained that if you couyld see through it and know what was on the other side it was transparent, she then held up a book and asked if we could see through it. this administration is a joke, the only thing is the joke is on us and bho intends to fool us, or at least hope to. Now the people are waking up and seeing what is going on and that we need to go back to being a Republic and respect the rights of all not just a few and that you get to keep most of what you work for and those who don't work do without, it's simple. I am not refering to those who are truly infirmed, the very young or the elderly who have paid their dues, but it does imply to the drug users, lazy and those who just chose to take and never give. Go back and read the Mayflower Compact and the papers from Jamestown, this is what it was then and should be today. the advantages for today's youth is there, they just need to use it, no drugs, no drop outs and hard work.

    23. Len, Alexandria,KY says:

      Transparency Obama style is being at the Foot of the great wall of China and attemting to see what is on the other side …NADA!!!

    24. Pingback: Must Know Headlines 3.1.2010 — ExposeTheMedia.com

    25. Sam, WI says:

      I personally think that the worst part of these false promises is that if someone makes these promises and actually means to keep them, hardly anyone will believe them. I bleieve McCarthy did the same kind of thing to accusations of being a communist.

    26. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      The Blair House Theater that was emceed by BO last Thursday was a tempered form of transparency that the Obamanation Administration truly believes is crystal clear in nature. We know differently and take it for what it is, not what they want us to believe.

      The FOIA situation has almost always been a frustrating one. At one point in my former career I had to respond to such a request. What a nut roll to go through to get from receipt of request to allowable release of information. If the records (or documents or information about whatever) was contained as part of meeting or coordination notes or memos and held in my organization’s records repository, then I could release it as it would reflect what base information we were operating from regardless of which agency created that information.

      Many times the documents or records provided didn’t actually answer the original intent of the requester but did provide them with routes to the information they were actually looking for. Understanding the provisions and complying with a FOIA request is routinely not an enjoyable exercise. It is great sport however if it points the finger directly at some entity your organization does not agree with.

    27. AWM- Indiana says:

      This arrogance will not end until:

      -We elect statesmen, and not politicians.

      -Those statesmen are called out of the general populace.

      -They must not have been seeking office.

      -They serve no more than two terms.

      -They return to their lives/jobs afterward. (Legislation requiring re-hire, etc.).

      -They receive no further compensation. (Contributions to be made only to pre-existing pension/retirement program, only for period of service).

    28. Jim, Orange City, FL says:

      And our president and members of Congress simply cannot understand why an overwheming majority of Americans cannot muster a feeling of confidence in the sincerity of our elected officials much less in their competence.

    29. Pingback: Morning Whip, Feb. 28, 2010 - Medary.com

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