In celebration of Sunshine Week, the press is taking big digs at the current administration’s failures to meet those feel-good promises of transparency and access to information made to the public and the media, and the headlines are quite interesting:
- “AP’s White House staff: Press losing presidential access as Obama officials close doors” – Sam Kirkland, Associated Press, March 18, 2014;
- “Sunshine week looking dark for Obama’s ‘most transparent administration in history’” – Mark Tapscott and Associated Press, Washington Examiner, March 20, 2014;
- “Agencies Earn Poor Grades in FOIA Handling” – Elena Malykhina, Information Week, March 17, 2014;
And one of my personal favorite headlines this week:
- “Obama’s most transparent presidency in history isn’t” – Andrew Malcolm, Investors.com, March 18, 2014.
There are over 145 immediately available articles on the refusal to ante-up public information by the federal government this week from both the big networks, syndicates and small independents. Whether right- or left-winged or politically, um, neutral, there’s a show-choir-like unison in the voices of these writers and their networks, all belting out the hook of their big number: We can’t get no (FOIA) satisfaction!
After spending several years in the military, I have a respect for the government’s desire to keep certain information out of the grubby little hands of the lowly civilian population. For example, why does Joe the Plumber need to know about his tax dollars that are used in funding a “test” program to put women in male-styled combination covers (aka “man-hats”) at the whim of a civilian Navy official who obviously has an excellent fashion sense and just wants men and women to “look the same”? Sure it cost millions of dollars and spent enough resources to feed a small island for a year. But how would that knowledge even remotely benefit him? That, my friends, is the definition of need-to-know.
This president, like most of his predecessors, is full of promises and falls short of fulfillment. But why is it that we’re so darn hurt over these broken promises? Sure, we fell for hope and change during his first term, but are we that naïve that when a politician lies we can’t seem to put our proverbial foot down? Instead, we cry and whine…. and then demand more free stuff (wee!) as a parting gift and Band Aid until the next bruising.
Ever the fact finder, I jumped over to Obama’s website (www.whitehouse.gov) to see what he had to say, and this is what I found. Ladies and Gentlemen, the words of the POTUS (or one of his many staff writers, anyway):
“Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
SUBJECT: Transparency and Open Government
My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.
Government should be transparent. Transparency promotes accountability and provides information for citizens about what their Government is doing. Information maintained by the Federal Government is a national asset. My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public. Executive departments and agencies should also solicit public feedback to identify information of greatest use to the public.” – President Barack Obama (read more: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/TransparencyandOpenGovernment )
What we have here is a failure to communicate that is nowhere near a quick fix when facing the miles and miles of red tape we’ve forced them to create to cover their proverbial butts because when we don’t like something we take court action, or in recent events, we do absolutely nothing except throw a temper tantrum. That red tape that didn’t start with Obama, and certainly won’t end with this administration. Has Obama’s office failed to keep another promise? Yes. But the fact remains that this type of secrecy by the US government has been going on since the inception of well, the U.S. government. We the People just feel more insulted now than ever when we’re told “No” because (enter favorite reality star here) is NEVER TOLD NO!
But looking back, we haven’t changed, either. We are as constant as the government we resent. We are absentee voters with disinterest in anything that isn’t immediately in our back yards. We are getting exactly the type of leadership we’ve asked for, folks.
Do-nothing politicians are merely the product of do-nothing voters.