"President Obama has promised an administration that is open and transparent. I'll believe it when I see it." — Helen Thomas, January 2009
When President Obama first took office, he pledged to make his administration "the most open and transparent in history."
Yet a new analysis conducted by the Associated Press shows an administration that last year engaged in record lack of transparency, blocking in whole or part access to government files under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.
Over 700,00 FOIA requests were made last year. That's up 8 percent from last year. While the administration responded to a slightly higher percentage of those requests compared to the previous year, the analysis shows the administration partially censored or completely blocked access to 36 percent of those requests.
According to AP's analysis, last year "the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times — a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama's first year."
"Growing delays and increasing refusals to disclose information sought in FOIA requests render the President's repeated statements promoting government transparency so much hot air," Shahid Buttar, executive director of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, told Common Dreams.
"Even more reflective of the administration's assault on transparency are its crackdown on whistleblowers and journalists, its refusal to give Congress straight answers on NSA spying, and its failure to de-classify the Senate's historic report on CIA torture crimes under the Bush administration," Buttar continued.
The AP analysis comes at the start of "Sunshine Week," which puts a spotlight on the importance of open government.