President Barack Obama continues to boast that he runs “the most transparent administration in history” with a straight face. But the claim doesn’t even pass the giggle test.
His administration has an abysmal record of prosecuting more whistleblowers than any predecessor. His administration’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act has gotten worse, rather than better, the longer he is in office. And he routinely sidesteps the seasoned White House press corps to sit for interviews with the likes of YouTube stars.
Add to the list of transgressions the new disclosure that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to have ignored federal guidelines by using only a personal email account. She also made no apparent effort to save her emails for posterity until just a few months ago, more than a year after she resigned, according to The New York Times. Other administrations, including that of George W. Bush, had similar problems. But those administrations weren’t selling their boss as President Transparency. Obama’s former secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, also apparently shunned an official work email account.
The law Clinton might have violated requires emails to be preserved in the National Archives. But her decision shows a callous disregard for public-records laws put in place to ensure that citizens and journalists have access to the workings of their government.
Six years into “the most transparent administration in history,” it’s now clear that Congress should put that standard into law and pass the Freedom of Information Act Improvement Act. It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. For evidence of why the law is needed, check the FOIA Project, an independent watchdog group that has compiled a database of lawsuits demanding access to federal records.
Obama should live up to his own marketing hype.