Obama Administration implemented policy to have political appointees review all FOIA requests….
Posted by iusbvision on January 17, 2011
So much for transparency…
Those who understand politics and corruption know what this means. This gives political appointees time to destroy documents, colluded to “get stories straight” and time to plan prior restraint and/or retaliation against those trying to gain information. This is the administration that promised unprecedented transparency. … If Bush had done this….
Yahoo News, with some editorial comments in red:
WASHINGTON – A House committee has asked the Homeland Security Department to provide documents about an agency policy that required political appointees to review many Freedom of Information Act requests, according to a letter obtained Sunday by The Associated Press.
The letter to Homeland Security was sent late Friday by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. It represents an early move by House Republicans who have vowed to launch numerous probes of President Barack Obama’s administration, ranging from its implementation of the new health care law to rules curbing air pollution to spending in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Associated Press reported in July that for at least a year, Homeland Security had sidetracked hundreds of requests for federal records to top political advisers to the department’s secretary, Janet Napolitano. The political appointees wanted information about those requesting the materials, and in some cases the release of documents considered politically sensitive was delayed, according to numerous e-mails that were obtained by the AP.
The Freedom of Information Act is supposed to ensure the quick public release of requested government documents without political consideration. Obama has said his administration would emphasize openness in providing requested federal records.
According to Issa’s letter, Homeland Security’s chief privacy officer and FOIA official told committee staff in September that political appointees were simply made aware of “significant and potentially controversial requests.”
Mary Ellen Callahan told them that political appointees reviewed the agency’s FOIA response letters for grammatical and other errors and did not edit or delay their release, the letter states. She also told the committee that Homeland Security abandoned the practice in response to the AP’s article, according to Issa’s letter. [WHAT!!. LOL – Political appointees are not going to have grammar nearly as good as a secretary/PR pro in a federal department. This reasoning is laughable. apparently the practice was not abandoned as the administration indicated – Editor]
On Sunday, Oversight panel spokesman Frederick Hill said Issa sent the letter “because the committee has received documents that raise questions about the veracity of DHS officials” on the matter. He did not elaborate.
Issa asked the agency to provide the documents by Jan. 29.
Homeland Security officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Last summer, officials said fewer than 500 requests were vetted by political officials. The department received about 103,000 requests for information in a recent 12-month period.
The agency’s directive said political appointees wanted to see FOIA requests for “awareness purposes,” regardless of who had filed them. The AP reported that the agency’s career employees were told to provide political appointees with information about who requested documents, where they lived, whether they were reporters and where they worked. [This is disturbing because what we have seen from the NYT, Washington Post, CBS,NBC.ABC,CNN.MSNBC is that in unison, within minutes of the shooting in Arizona these elite media outlets immediately using the same spin blamed Sarah Palin and other conservatives. Several of these same outlets talking heads chastised Sarah Palin for not speaking out, and when they did they in unison said that she was injecting herself into the news. This reminds me of the 2000 election when G.W. Bush picked Dick Cheney for VP the news in unison said that Cheney was picked because he had “gravitas” (implying that Bush had none). Why have a state-run media when the so-called legit media is willing to act as the PR arm of the Democratic leadership? A reporter is looking into something he shouldn’t, so the administration leans on said reporter’s bosses and bye-bye FOIA. – Editor]
According to the directive, political aides were to review requests related to Obama policy priorities, or anything related to controversial or sensitive subjects. Requests from journalists, lawmakers and activist groups were to also to be examined.