by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The latest Bloomberg Businessweek reminds us that President Obama “likes to say his administration is the most open and transparent in history.” The actual record? That’s another story.
On the White House website, he pledges to give citizens an “unprecedented level” of access to information and says agencies will “offer Americans increased opportunities to participate in policy making and to provide their government with the benefits of their collective expertise.”
The president’s efforts to make people feel they are as important in helping him govern as they were in helping him get elected are evident in a new video on the site, titled “Be a Part of the Next Four Years.” It shows Obama learning to send Twitter messages, hosting Google+ Hangouts with ordinary folks, and cold-calling surprised citizens — who happen to have film crews in their homes when the phone rings — to thank them for their ideas. “One of my priorities as president is opening the White House to the American people,” Obama says on the video.
Earnest as he may be about creating an open atmosphere, there’s something missing: actual openness. As Bloomberg Businessweek reports in its Feb. 11 issue, Obama hasn’t been any more inclusive or transparent than his predecessors.
In 2009 the new president commanded all federal agencies to hasten the release of official documents under the Freedom of Information Act. Two-thirds of agencies have ignored that order, according to a study by the National Security Archive, an independent research center based at George Washington University in Washington.
The administration announced with great fanfare that it would release the names of White House visitors; it has done so only sporadically. The president hasn’t disclosed the amounts that corporate donors gave to fund the inaugural celebration. And his national security team is taking heat from Congress over its secretive policy of attacking suspected terrorists overseas, including U.S. citizens, with drones.
Broken promises? Shocking,