Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 In Review 5: “it’s the transparency, Stupid!”

Two years ago, the promises (or, dare I say, pledges) were as clear as they were frequently appearing in the news. We were told this administration would bring far greater transparency in its dealings and affairs.

To my amusement, when I began nosing through my notes for this "year in review" process I happened upon an Associated Press article printed March 17 with the headline, "Obama fails to open up records."

The story elaborates on the point by explaining that although President Barack Obama publicly instructed federal agencies to stop refusing Freedom Of Information Act requests via the so-called deliberative process exception – which allows the government to withhold records that describe decision-making behind the scenes – invocations of it have spiked.

During fiscal year 2009, top agencies cited the exception 70,779 times while in 2008 it was raised on 47,395 occasions.

The kicker is Obama ended-up having his promise kept for him by someone else in relation to transparency (albeit not in the manner he likely had in mind) due to the efforts of Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks operation.

My gut instinct tells me the White House hadn't intended to be transparent with the State Department's instructions to agents on pilfering the credit card numbers of foreign diplomats for the purpose of tracking which restaurants they patronized most often.

Say what you will about Assange and his ideological pursuits, he undeniably has succeeded in infuriating U.S. politicians on both sides of the out-dated two-party aisle.

If Obama can somehow tap into some of that bipartisan aggravation, he might stand a chance in November 2012.

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