Thursday, March 14, 2013

National Sunshine Week

Happy National Sunshine Week! This is a week set aside to focus on open government. A freedom loving people demand transparency in government from our elected officials and taxpayer funded government agencies.  Whether it is an individual seeking answers to a question on a particular issue or questions posed from the media, we demand transparency.

Here is a list of participants.

When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, he pledged to lead the "most transparent government ever".  Sure, we laugh at that memory now but it is wrong that in a democratic republic, we have just come to accept the lack of transparency in our government.  HERE is what a recent analysis from AP found:

On one hand, an Associated Press analysis released during the week found that the Obama administration in 2012 answered the highest number during his time in office of FOI requests for “government documents, emails, photographs and more, and it slightly reduced its backlog of requests from previous years.”
But the same analysis shows the administration more often cited legal provisions allowing the government to keep records or parts of its records secret, especially a rule intended to protect national security – though some say that may just mean there were more requests for those kinds of documents.
AP also said that officials were making more use of exceptions in FOI laws that protect the “behind-the-scenes decision-making process.”
And the private National Security Archives at George Washington University issued a report on March 11 noting that only about one-half of 90 agencies ordered by President Obama to upgrade their responses to information requests and foster overall openness have “actually made concrete changes in their FIOA procedures.”

U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) praised Texas’ commitment to open government during a hearing on “Sunshine Week:”
 “It’s a no-brainer: democracy only works when the public knows what their government is doing, and holds public officials accountable. 
“The reason why Texas is a leading light in open government reforms is because not only do we have the right laws in place, but Texas leads because its leaders are committed to making sure the cause of open government is enforced and require government agencies to comply with the law.” 
For all his continued criticisms of the Bush administration, turns out President Obama is even more rigid in secrecy. Some of those raising the most vocal objections are loyal Obama supporters:
Just this week, the Associated Press conducted a study proving that last year, the Obama administration has rejected more FOIA requests on national security grounds than in any year since Obama became president, and quoted Alexander Abdo, an ACLU staff attorney for its national security project, as follows:"We've seen a meteoric rise in the number of claims to protect secret law, the government's interpretations of laws or its understanding of its own authority. In some ways, the Obama administration is actually even more aggressive on secrecy than the Bush administration."Re-read that last sentence in italics. Most of those policies have been covered here at length, and I won't repeat them here. But what is remarkable is that this secrecy has become so oppressive and extreme that even the most faithful Democratic operatives are now angrily exploding with public denunciations.
This administration has been compared to the Nixon administration in the level of secrecy which seems to cover a high level of corruption.  Whether it is still unanswered questions concerning Fast and Furious, Benghazi or even the multiple email accounts used by the former EPA director, there are many questions left unanswered.

Time for some answers.  Sunshine is the best disinfectant.


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