March 15, 2013
Surprise, surprise…the “most transparent administration ever” is, well, the least transparent. Not that any of you are shocked by this revelation, but a new report by the Associated Press demonstrates just how secret our government and intelligence agencies have become. Not only did they claim “national security” over and over like a bunch of drunk parrots, they also claimed the need to protect “internal deliberations.” Specifically, the number of times the government withheld or censored reports in 2012 was 479,000 times, up 22% from 2011. The CIA denied 60% of requests, up from 49% in 2011. From the Associated Press:
The AP examined more than 5,600 data elements measuring the administration’s performance on government transparency since Obama’s election.
When the government withheld or censored records, it cited exceptions built into the law to avoid turning over materials more than 479,000 times, a roughly 22 percent increase over the previous year.
In a year of intense public interest over deadly U.S. drones, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, terror threats and more, the government cited national security to withhold information at least 5,223 times — a jump over 4,243 such cases in 2011 and 3,805 cases in Obama’s first year in office. The secretive CIA last year became even more secretive: Nearly 60 percent of 3,586 requests for files were withheld or censored for that reason last year, compared with 49 percent a year earlier.
U.S. courts are loath to overrule the administration whenever it cites national security. A federal judge, Colleen McMahon of New York, in January ruled against The New York Times and the American Civil Liberties Union to see records about the government’s legal justification for drone attacks and other methods it has used to kill terrorism suspects overseas, including American citizens. She cited an “Alice in Wonderland” predicament in which she was expected to determine what information should be revealed but unable to challenge the government’s secrecy claim. Part of her ruling was sealed and made available only to the government’s lawyers.
Think about how scary that is. Judges just accept government claims and then the public isn’t allowed to see the relevant parts of her ruling.
Let’s now finish with this statement from Alexander Abdo, an ACLU staff attorney for its national security project:
In some ways, the Obama administration is actually even more aggressive on secrecy than the Bush administration.”
Full article here.