Obama hinders public's right to know
By Quin Hillyer
The Washington Times
The candidate whose most identifiable promise was to provide open and transparent government instead is leading an administration rife with secrecy, stonewalling and prevarication.It goes on to give more examples, but do we really need more? Come on, this administration and congress make the secretive Dick Cheney look like he was shouting from the mountain top!
The administration repeatedly has stiff-armed Congress, the media, outside organizations and even a prestigious independent government commission. It has raised "none of your business" from an adolescent rejoinder to a public policy - to keep the public in the dark.
Before examining examples of this alarming trend, let's remember what newly inaugurated President Obama said in a big press conference on Jan. 21, his first full day in office. His words and tone could not have been more clear:
"The way to hold government accountable is to make it transparent so that the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made [and] how they're being made. ... Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known. ... The mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret does not mean you should always use it."
Fine sentiments. But this is the same president who promised to abide by campaign spending limits - until the time came actually to do it. Likewise, these pledges were quickly tossed into the sewer of power politics.
Consider the president's unfathomable decision to support the radical leftist, anti-American, would-be dictator Manuel Zelaya when all the lawful authorities in Honduras removed him from office for subverting the clear text of the Honduran constitution. Even the American Law Library of Congress concluded that the Honduran Legislature and courts acted lawfully, yet the Obama administration actually has imposed sanctions on the Honduran people, who long have been our allies.
Since July 8, 16 senators have been asking the State Department to explain the legal rationale for its stance. They received no substantive response. When Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, and three House members traveled to Honduras, U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens urged them to read a memo by State Department counsel Harold Koh explaining the administration's analysis. On Oct. 6, the senator's staff specifically requested that memo from the department. No response.
Twice this month, I requested the memo. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley refused, saying the memo officially is "classified" because of "the nature of the information used in the analysis" and that it also is subject to "attorney-client privilege." Finally, he said it is privileged because it is a "pre-decisional" and "internal deliberative document."