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"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this Presidency" - Barack Obama.
In March 2011, President Obama was given a "transparency award" from five different open government advocate groups. The award was presented to Obama in a private White House ceremony closed off from reporters and the public. Ironically, Obama received his transparency award in secret, because it could have proved very embarrassing to the President if reporters had brought up any of the following information at his TRANSPARENCY award celebration:
• President Obama has not decreased, but has dramatically increased governmental secrecy. According to a new report to the president by the Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO) – the federal agency that provides oversight of the government's security classification system – the cost of classification for 2010 has reached over $10.17bn. That's a 15% jump from the previous year, and the first time ever that secrecy costs have surpassed $10bn. Last month, ISOO reported that the number of original classification decisions generated by the Obama administration in 2010 was 224,734 – a 22.6% jump from the previous year (see The Price of Secrecy, Obama Edition).
• There were 544,360 requests for information last year under the Freedom of Information Act to the 35 biggest federal agencies – 41,000 requests more than the year before. Yet the bureaucracy responded to 12,400 fewer requests than the prior year, according to an analysis by the Associated Press.
• Obama has invoked baseless and unconstitutional executive secrecy to quash legal inquiries into secret illegalities more often than any predecessor. The list of this president's invocations of the "state secrets privilege" has already resulted in shutting down lawsuits involving the National Security Agency's illegal wiretapping – Jewel v NSA and Shubert v Obama; extraordinary rendition and assassination – Anwar al-Awlaki; and illegal torture – Binyam Mohamed.
• Ignoring his campaign promise to protect government whistleblowers, Obama's presidency has amassed the worst record in US history for persecuting, prosecuting and jailing government whistleblowers and truth-tellers. President Obama's behaviour has been in stark contrast to his campaign promises, which included live-streaming meetings online and rewarding whistleblowers. Obama's department of justice is twisting the 1917 Espionage Act to press criminal charges in five alleged instances of national security leaks – more such prosecutions than have occurred in all previous administrations combined.
• The Obama justice department's prosecution of former NSA official Thomas Drake, who, up till 9 June, faced 35 years in prison for having blown the whistle on the NSA's costly and unlawful warrantless monitoring of American citizens, typifies the abusive practices made possible through expansive secrecy agreements and threats of prosecution.
• President Obama has set a powerful and chilling example for potential whistleblowers through the abuse and torture of Bradley Manning, whose guilt he has also publicly stated prior to any trial by his, Obama's, military subordinates.
• Obama is the only president who has reenacted Fahrenheit 451 by actually having his agency collect and burn a book due to a never-justified classification excuse: Lt Col Tony Shaffer's Operation Dark Heart.
• Under President Obama, the FBI has launched a series of raids and issued grand jury subpoenas targeting nearly two dozen antiwar activists. Over 2,600 arrests of protesters in the US have been made while Obama has been president, further encroaching on the exercise of first amendment rights.
• President Obama has initiated a secret assassination programme, has publicly announced that he has given himself the power to include Americans on the list of people to be assassinated, and has attempted to assassinate at least one, Anwar al-Awlaki.
• President Obama has maintained the power to secretly kidnap, imprison, rendition, or torture, and he has formalised the power to lawlessly imprison in an executive order. This also means the power to secretly imprison. There are some 1,700 prisoners outside the rule of law in Bagram alone.
• The Obama administration is also busy going after reporters to discover their sources and convening grand juries in order to target journalists and news publishers.
• President Obama promised to reveal White House visitors' logs. He didn't. In response to outrage over his refusal to reveal the names of health insurance CEOs he had met with and cut deals with on the health insurance reform bill, he announced that he would release the names going forward, but not those in the past. And going forward, he would withhold names he chose to withhold. White House staff then began regularly meeting lobbyists just off White House grounds in order to avoid the visitors' logs.
• President Obama has sent representatives to aggressively pressure Spain, England and Germany to shut down investigations that could have exposed the crimes of the Bush era, just as he has instructed the US justice department to avoid such matters. This includes his refusal to allow prosecutions of the CIA for torture, following a public letter from eight previous heads of the CIA informing him that he had better not enforce those laws.
While I don't agree with all the aforementioned accusations against Obama, this President deserved a transparency award about as much as he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize while he was fighting two wars and attacking people in other countries with Predator drones. It doesn't get more ironic than that. Btw, Obama just announced he's sending U.S. combat troops to Uganda ! Sigh. I think the U.S. now has troops everywhere except Antarctica. No, strike that. It turns out we DO have troops in Antarctica. Must be those insurgent penguin factions.
In a related transparency story, one of the names on the White House visitors' log in 2009 was one Malik Shabazz. You may remember a fellow named Malik Shabazz is a leader of the New Black Panther Party. You may also remember Malik Shabazz was one of the New Black Panthers who stood in front of a Philadelphia voting booth with nightsticks and intimidated voters. That is a federal crime, but Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder inexplicably dismissed the case. Two months later, someone named 'Malik Shabazz' visited the White House. Big Government's Andrew Breitbart has been asking the White House for over a year if the Malik Shabazz who visited the White House in 2009 was the New Black Panther Malik Shabazz (Panther Shabazz says it was), but the "transparent" White House has not answered his requests. Perhaps the White House wants to keep quiet the fact that then-candidate Obama appeared on the same podium with the New Black Panthers, a hate group, in 2007. It seems our mainstream media can't be bothered with such a story when it involves Obama, a Democrat. No, the media is too busy talking about an offensive word that was written on a rock 27 years ago on some hunting land Rick Perry's family once leased, a word that neither Perry nor his family placed on the rock, and that Perry's family painted over. THAT is somehow news when it involves a Republican. But Obama appearing onstage with a hate group in 2007 while he was running for President....nah, nothing to see here, says the illustrious mainstream media.
And speaking of Attorney General Holder...how many different stories are we going to get from him regarding the Fast And Furious incident ? When Holder was asked by Congress in May 2011 when he first heard of Fast And Furious, he said "I'm not sure of the exact date but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks." Later he told reporters, "The notion that this reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that at this point I don't think is supported by the facts and I think once we examine it and once the facts are revealed we'll see that's not the case." Unfortunately, none of what Holder said was true. E-mails revealed Holder knew about Fast And Furious since at least July 2010. Holder either lied to Congress, a federal crime, or he conveniently forgot all about an ATF program (the ATF works for Holder as head of Justice) in which thousands of American-made guns were purposely put into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, resulting in the deaths of at least two U.S. agents and countless Mexicans. After Holder's falsehoods were revealed, the DOJ lamely claimed Holder doesn't read his e-mails, adding possible dereliction of duty charges to Holder's other problems. Then the Justice Dept. told CBS News that Holder thought the congressional inquirers were talking about some OTHER case (ah yes, the OTHER Fast And Furious operation ! That explains it. NOT !). Then they told CBS that Holder misunderstood the question, and that he DID know about the Fast And Furious case, just not the details...I assume Holder's next excuse will be, 'the dog ate my Fast And Furious notes'. This thing practically screams "coverup". The DOJ has not been cooperating with the investigation, and this week Congressman Issa (R-CA) subpoenaed all DOJ documents regarding Fast And Furious.
Can't you just smell the transparency ???
Btw, the White House just refused to turn over documents related to the Solyndra debacle, in which over a half billion taxpayer dollars were flushed down the toilet.
Maybe we should give Obama another transparency award. What the heck ? After all, he is a Democrat.