Friday, August 19, 2011

Judge rules Obama transparency lacking

U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, ruled against the Obama administration, Wednesday, finding that the Secret Service’s White House visitor logs are subject to Freedom of Information Act requests. The non-partisan pro-transparency non-profit Judicial Watch had requested to see a complete list of who visited the White House between January 20, 2009 and August, 10, 2009.
“The proper course of action by the Secret Service is duly to process [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA request, disclose all segregable, nonexempt records, and then assert specific FOIA exemptions for all records it seeks to withhold,” Howell wrote. The White House has posted selective portions of the White House visitor logs at their convenience.
President Obama had promised that his administration was committed “to be the most open and transparent ever.” But an Associated Press study found that the Obama administration is ducking FOIA requests at a greater rate than past administrations even though the number of requests is down.
The Obama administration has further circumvented their transparency promise by meeting lobbyists near, but not in the White House, thus avoiding the Secret Service logs entirely.
“This is a major victory for open government and an embarrassing defeat for the Obama administration,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This administration will now have to release all records of all visitors to the White House – or explain why White House visits should be kept secret under law. It is refreshing to see the court remind this this administration that the rule of law applies to it.”

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