Sunday, March 23, 2014
Obama Secretly Rewrote Freedom Of Information Act to Exclude Him And All WH Docs
It has come to light the President Obama, who promised the most transparent administration history was lying to the American people - again.
On April 15, 2009, a mere four months after he was sworn into office, the president decided to secretly rewrite the Freedom Of Information Act, which is designed to inform the public and provide oversight of various government activities and behavior to keep any of what it called “White House equities” from being released without a White House review:
The rewrite came in an April 15, 2009, memo from then-White House Counsel Greg Craig instructing the executive branch to let White House officials review any documents sought by FOIA requestors that involved "White House equities."
That phrase is nowhere to be found in the FOIA, yet the Obama White House effectively amended the law to create a new exception to justify keeping public documents locked away from the public.
The equities exception is breathtaking in its breadth. As the Greg memo put it, any document request is covered, including "congressional committee requests, GAO requests, judicial subpoenas and FOIA requests."
And it doesn't matter what format the documents happen to be in because, according to Greg, the equities exception "applies to all documents and records, whether in oral, paper, or electronic form, that relate to communications to and from the White House, including preparations for such communications."
This secret rewrite basically stopped federal agencies from answering FOIA requests which might include “White House equities” within the 20 days required by law, and there is no time limit on how long a 'review' might take. It covers whatever the White House says it covers and keeps whatever it wants hidden away as long as the White House wants to.
Since the White House gets to decide for itself what “White House equities” consist of and how long the White House feels like taking to review requests which might possibly include them, what the president and his team have effectively done is to make the FOIA law meaningless. They can label nearly everything as a 'White House Equity' and stonewall and exclude the public and the media forever,or pick a time to sign off on whatever does get released when it's politically advantageous, if at all.
In one case cited by Cause of Action, the response to a request from a Los Angeles Times reporter to the Department of the Interior for "communications between the White House and high-ranking Interior officials on various politically sensitive topics" was delayed at least two years by the equities review.
"Cause of Action is still waiting for documents from 16 federal agencies, with the Department of Treasury having the longest pending request of 202 business days.
"The Department of Energy is a close second at 169 business days. The requests to the Department of Defense and Department of Health and Human Services have been pending for 138 business days," the report said.
By the way, rewriting a portion of existing law secretly like this by the Executive Branch without going through congress is not only highly unethical, it is illegal and unconstitutional. It is a clear violation of President Obama's Oath of Office and de facto grounds for impeachment all by itself.
An actual Speaker of the House who had respect for congress and cared about the Constitution would make a major public stink, bring charges in the House and submit them to the senate for trial to force the Democrats to vote against such an outright violation of law - if they dared. Unfortunately, John Boehner isn't that kind of Speaker.