Obama: Words .vs. Actions

(11:00AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

Consider the following words of hope offered by President Obama, and the public commitments which he made to us upon his taking office:

Obama’s Words:

“All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of  disclosure,  in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government.

Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”

      –President Obama, January 21, 2009

“My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government.”

     –President Obama, January 28, 2009


Okay, so let’s look now at how President Obama has actually put those words and those goals into action.  

Obama’s Actions:


“In a closely watched case involving rendition and torture [Mohamed v. Jeppesen Data], a lawyer for the Obama administration seemed to surprise a panel of federal appeals judges on Monday by pressing ahead with an argument for preserving state secrets originally developed by the Bush administration.”

  –February 9, New York Times


“The Obama administration, siding with former President George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails.”

  –February 21, Huffington Post


“The Obama administration has lost its argument that a potential threat to national security should stop a lawsuit challenging the government’s warrantless wiretapping program. . . . The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, claimed national security would be compromised if a lawsuit brought by the Oregon chapter of the charity, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, was allowed to proceed.”

   –February 27, Associated Press


“The Obama Administration still wants to keep its secrets. Yesterday, the Justice Department [in a case brought against Bush officials for illegal spying] embraced the argument that the state secrets privilege . . . should shut down any litigation against the National Security Agency for its arguably illegal warrantless surveillance program.”

   –April 7, The Atlantic


“A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that a lawsuit brought by five men who say they were tortured as part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s “extraordinary rendition” program could proceed, dealing a blow to efforts by both the Bush and Obama administrations to claim sweeping executive secrecy powers.”

   –April 28, New York Times


“The Obama administration says it will curtail Anglo-American intelligence sharing if the British High Court discloses new details of the treatment of a former Guantanamo detainee. . . . In February, the British Foreign Office claimed that the U.S. government had threatened to cut off intelligence cooperation if details of the interrogations and treatment of Mr. Mohamed were disclosed.”

   –May 12, Washington Times


“President Obama yesterday chose secrecy over disclosure, saying he will seek to block the court-ordered release of photographs depicting the abuse of detainees held by U.S. authorities abroad.”

   –May 14, Washington Post


“A federal judge on Friday threatened to severely sanction the Obama Administration for withholding a top secret document he ordered given to lawyers suing the government over its warrantless wiretapping program. . . . The National Security Agency has also refused the judge’s previous orders to provide security clearances to two of the charity’s lawyers so they can view the top secret document.”

   –May 22, San Francisco Chronicle


“The [Graham-Lieberman] measure, supported by the White House and passed May 21 as an attachment to a Senate funding bill, would put beyond the reach of FOIA any photographs taken between Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 22, 2009.”

   –June 1, Washington Post Editorial page


“The Obama administration objected yesterday to the release of certain Bush-era documents that detail the videotaped interrogations of CIA detainees at secret prisons, arguing to a federal judge that doing so would endanger national security and benefit al-Qaeda’s recruitment efforts.  In an affidavit, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta defended the classification of records describing the contents of the 92 videotapes, their destruction by the CIA in 2005 and what he called ‘sensitive operational information’ about the interrogations.”

   –June 9, Washington Post


“The Obama administration has decided to keep secret the locations of nearly four dozen coal ash storage sites that pose a threat to people living nearby.  The Environmental Protection Agency classified the 44 sites as potential hazards to communities while investigating storage of coal ash waste after a spill at a Tennessee power plant in December.”

   –June 12, Associated Press


“Defense Department officials are debating whether to ignore an earlier promise and squelch the release of an investigation into a U.S. airstrike last month, out of fear that its findings would further enrage the Afghan public, Pentagon officials told McClatchy Monday.”

   –June 16, McClatchy


“After being briefed today on President Obama’s firing last week of Gerald Walpin, Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said the President did not abide by the same law that he co-sponsored – and she wrote – about firing Inspectors General. . . . “The legislation which was passed last year requires that the President give a reason for the removal,” [McCaskill said]. McCaskill, a key Obama ally, said that the President’s stated reason for the termination, ‘Loss of confidence’ is not a sufficient reason.”

   –June 16, ABC News


President Obama has embraced Bush administration justifications for denying public access to White House visitor logs even as advisers say they are reviewing the policy of keeping secret the official record of comings and goings.”

   –June 17, Washington Post


“A federal judge yesterday sharply questioned an assertion by the Obama administration that former Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s statements to a special prosecutor about the Valerie Plame case must be kept secret, partly so they do not become fodder for Cheney’s political enemies or late-night commentary on The Daily Show.”

   –June 19, Washington Post


“The Obama administration today asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a court ruling requiring the release of photos depicting the abuse of prisoners held in U.S. custody at overseas locations. In September 2008, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ordered the government to turn over the photos in response to an ACLU Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit. The Obama administration originally indicated that it would not appeal that decision and would release the photos, but abruptly reversed its position shortly before the agreed-upon deadline.”

   –August 7, The Public Record



“Press reports have revealed that the Obama administration seeks the creation of a prison and court complex on US soil to process and hold current and future suspects. It would include a facility to indefinitely detain people held without trial or any other constitutionally mandated due process rights.”

    –August 5, 2009, Golbal Research


How can Obama possibly claim with a straight face that he cares in the slightest about Open Government?  He has done exactly the opposite.

Bill Clinton was never at any time this secretive. Everywhere you look, Obama’s record has showed a perverse disrespect for disclosure, and a rigid, steadfast, consistent defense of the lawless Bush-Cheney model of privileged, unaccountable, non-transparent, secretive Government; Government that is totally exempt from all laws, exempt from Court rulings, and exempt from constitutional processes; Government that is elite and totally outside the reach of democracy.

At what point do these actions then become tantamount to Obama being a direct accessory to the many Cheney-Bush crimes? At what point do these actions, by Obama, become crimes in of themselves?


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  1. “We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.

    Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions.

    Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it.”

        –President John Kennedy

    • pico on August 9, 2009 at 23:49

    Both Froomkin and Greenwald have written pretty passionately about this, too.

    A really astute observation from The New Republic‘s Elizabeth Goitein:

    Presidents do not readily relinquish powers they have inherited. If Obama intends to renounce reliance on claims of “subject matter privilege,” he deserves immense credit. Nonetheless, as the Ninth Circuit’s decision makes clear, there is no need to “reform” the state secrets privilege. When construed properly, the privilege is quite narrow; invoking the privilege to shut down entire lawsuits is a misuse of the privilege, one that the Obama administration could and should have avoided from the beginning.

    She’s mostly right here: there’s no need for the Obama department to claim sweeping change, all they have to do is treat the existing law within the narrow boundaries it already construes.  But they’re not even doing that.

    (Where I disagree with Goitein: it does help to clarify these things legislatively, too, since nothing would stop the next president from returning to the broader paradigm of invoking state secrets/)

  2. “Press reports have revealed that the Obama administration seeks the creation of a prison and court complex on US soil to process and hold current and future suspects. It would include a facility to indefinitely detain people held without trial or any other constitutionally mandated due process rights.”

         –Golbal Research, August 5, 2009

    Is this tyranny what we all voted for???


  3. “The President that extended the hand of peace to the Muslim world has murdered hundreds of Pakistani men, women and children. The President who promised accountability in Government has filled his staff with lobbyists, banksters and warmongers. His Attorney General refuses to prosecute some of the worst war crimes committed in modern history and continues to give legal cover to criminals who tortured with impunity.

    The country has been further bankrupted by the continuing theft of taxpayer money as the Wall St. campaign donors receive their quid pro quo. Obama has stood by idly as Bernancke states that the private Federal Reserve is not answerable to either Congress of the American public. The U.S. taxpayer is now on the hook for $14.3 Trillion and rising. Foreclosures and unemployment are rising with no meaningful efforts by the administration to alleviate the symptoms, never mind the cause. The new image of America is one of tent cities, lengthening soup kitchen lines, sherrifs evicting countless thousands of young and old from their homes, once prosperous towns descending in to an eerie stillness and an increasingly disillusioned populace.”

     –America’s Nightmare, Manipulation, propaganda, imagery & PR wizardry, by Andrew Hughes

  4. …of the abuses on just this one issue, open government.  I feel certain, that a day to day catalogue of backtracking on other isssues would reveal the same lack of integrity.

    We’ve been lied to again.

  5. Bush IT expert dies.


    Torture prosecutions?

    And don’t forget to refuse this October’s mandatory Unicorn flu shot.


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