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The President & the Executive Branch Discuss Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view at the Political Forums; Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view On his first day in office ...

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Old 03-23-2015, 07:55 PM
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Default Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view

Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view
Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view
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On his first day in office in 2009, President Obama promised that transparency would be one of the "touchstones of this presidency."

Advocates for open government were ecstatic at the promise of less secrecy and the president's directive to all government agencies that "in the face of doubt, openness prevails."

THE WHITE HOUSE: We're committed to openness

Too bad the message got lost in the mail. Or the e-mail. Even six years later, many federal agencies haven't gotten it.

They slow-walk requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which was passed a half-century ago to ensure public access to government business — which, in fact, is the people's business.

Delays can last for years. Long before news broke this month that Hillary Clinton used private e-mail for government business while she was secretary of State, the Associated Press had sought records from Clinton's tenure. The AP made its first request five years ago. Last week, tired of waiting, it filed suit to force release.

How tenaciously does government guard its secrets? One group has been battling the State Department for more than 13 years for details of phone conversations of former secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s.

This arrogant attitude — that government information doesn't belong to the people — extends even to issues of public safety.

Last year, after reports that 19 veterans died and dozens were injured by delays in medical screenings at VA hospitals, the Department of Veterans Affairs refused to release the names of the hospitals. The VA denied FOIA requests from a reporter. After a battle and pressure from Congress, the VA finally relented.

In general, agencies don't relent. They deny all or key parts of requests, often by stretching the meaning of the law.

The government can, for instance, withhold information that reveals how policy decisions were reached — an exemption so subjective it can be stretched to cover just about anything. The Obama administration reduced use of such denials during its first two years. But in 2013, it used the exemption more than 81,000 times — an increase of 50% over George W. Bush's last year in office.

When government opens public records, the benefits can be enormous. The administration, to its credit, has decided to release data annually on what Medicare pays doctors — data that can reveal patterns of fraud and waste.

And while many agencies lag, 40% now have digital reading rooms with easy access to certain electronic records.

So how can more public records be made truly public?

For starters, Congress should pass a pending measure to establish a legal "presumption of openness" and place a time limit on government's ability to withhold data under the much-abused decision-making exemption.

The rest will take strong leadership. Last week, during the flap over Clinton's private e-mail account, Obama repeated that his administration's policy "is to encourage transparency."

Obama is the boss of the bureaucracy. If he wants that message to get through to the entire government, he needs to do more than encourage. He needs to make it a priority.

Agency grades

Departments' disclosure practices:

Agriculture B
Social Security B-
Justice C
Homeland Security D+
Transportation D+
Treasury D+
EPA D
Veterans Affairs D
Defense D-
HHS F
State F
Source The Center for Effective Government

.....
the most transparent admin ever ever...
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Old 03-24-2015, 09:00 AM
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Default Re: Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view

James Carville let the cat out of the bag last week when he revealed Hillary's true motivation for hiding public records on her private email server, she didn't want the evil Republicans to see her email. The law doesn't matter, regulations don't matter, all that matters is political expediency, a lesson she learned from her husband and reinforced by Obama.
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Old 03-26-2015, 07:31 PM
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Default Re: Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view

But yet they had no problem declassifying and releasing a Document Revealing Israel's Nuclear Program because of the FOIA.

Of course they redacted the info pertaining to all other Nato countries except Israel.
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Old 03-27-2015, 01:01 AM
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Default Re: Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view

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Originally Posted by mr. wonder View Post
Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view
Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests: Our view


the most transparent admin ever ever...
The official JFK investigation won't be open until 2017 and then, I'll bet it will take a court order and maybe an act of congress.
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