Obama Made a Mockery of National Freedom of Information Day
A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. – James Madison, Federalist No. 51, February 8, 1788
A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. – James Madison, letter to W.T. Barry, August 4, 1822
I recently discovered that there is a National Freedom of Information Day (NFID) in America. NFID is the day used to celebrate President James Madison’s birthday each year. His birthday was chosen for NFID because he was arguably the first and most outspoken advocate for openness in government. Unfortunately, it has been decades since America had a POTUS like James Madison. Madison has faded into history and been replaced with Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Hussein Obama. Transparency in government is dead!
The least transparent administration in U.S. history is the Obama administration. Candidate Obama promised on the campaign trail in 2008 that his administration would prove to be the most transparent in U.S. history. He made the promise while criticizing the Bush (43) administration for erasing millions of e-mails. His promise has turned out to be campaign rubbish.
Obama observed this year’s NFID by removing the federal regulation that subjects his administration to the Freedom of Information Act. The maneuver by Obama was not reported by ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN, but USA Today did break the story the day Obama issued the exemption. The revision to the federal register did not allow for the usual comment period by the public before finalizing the proposed regulation/rule/law.
USA Today reported on March 16, 2015 that “The White House is removing a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act, making official a policy under Presidents Bush and Obama to reject requests for records to that office.” It is not as if the White House was processing FOIA requests prior to Obama’s self-serving exemption. In fact, the Obama administration has denied 550,000 FOIA requests. Denying 550,000 FOIA requests is impressive for the most transparent administration in U.S. history.