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Common Dreams

Where Unwelcome White House Petitions 'Go to Die'

'We the People' White House website answers joke petitions, leaves others in the dark

Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer

What do these three demands have in common?

  • Pardon Edward Snowden.
  • Require all Genetically Modified Foods to be labeled as such.
  • Remove United States District Attorney Carmen Ortiz from office for overreach in the case of Aaron Swartz.

All three are titles of petitions that have been submitted to the White House, each with tens of thousands of signatures, that continue to be ignored by the Obama administration.

The petitions are among a slew of others submitted through the White House's "We the People" website that was established in 2011 to provide "a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country."

However, as the website WH Petitions Info points out, not all petitions get a fair shot.


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Of the 232 White House petitions that met their signature requirements, the Obama administration has left 30 unanswered. The average wait time for those petitions is 241 days—so far.

Roughly 87% of the other petitions have been met with an average response time of 61 days.

Eli Dourado, a researcher at George Mason University who created the petition info website, told The Washington Post that the list of successful petitions still awaiting a reply was a “glaring omission” from the Obama administration's own We The People site. Dourado said there is a “purgatory” where petitions that the Obama administration "doesn’t want to answer can disappear," Andrea Peterson at the Post reports.

"It’s curious that the White House responded to a joke Death Star petition," writes Peterson, while other more pressing petitions, that have also met the signature threshold required by the White House, are left in the dark.


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