'Transparency' through obstruction
Welcome to the Summer of Belated Epiphanies. Media lapdogs finally are arriving at the conclusion that maybe the Obama administration isn't the most transparent in world history after all.
The Associated Press last week reported on the administration's use of secret email accounts, stonewalling on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and attempted shakedowns of reporters seeking public information on just how widespread the disclosure evasion might be.
But it wasn't the AP that originally uncovered Team Obama's penchant for email sock-puppetry. Chris Horner, Competitive Enterprise Institute fellow and author of “The Liberal War on Transparency,” first exposed former EPA Chief Lisa Jackson's Internet alter ego, “Richard Windsor,” last year. The free-market environmental think tank filed suit against the government last fall, seeking records on the secret, illegal “secondary” email accounts of high-level EPA officials after the agency ignored multiple FOIA filings.
Seven months after President Obama was re-elected, along comes the AP to bolster Horner's assertion that the practice is not isolated in one bureaucracy. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius maintained at least one FOIA-subverting address: KGS2@hhs.gov. So did Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a top Obama-Care operative.
According to the AP, 10 agencies have not yet turned over lists of email addresses. In a classic Captain Obvious moment, the AP points out that these hidden accounts “drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions.” You don't say!
Hostility to transparency, of course, has been a hallmark of this administration from top to bottom:
• Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for years fought disclosure of massive donations from foreign governments and corporations that filled her husband's library and foundation coffers.
• Former Labor Secretary Hilda Solis failed to disclose that she was director and treasurer of a union-promoting lobbying group.
• Attorney General Eric Holder overruled his own lawyers in the Justice Department on the issue of D.C. voting rights (which he and Obama support) and refused to make public the staffers' opinion that a House bill on the matter was unconstitutional. His obstructions extend from the New Black Panther Party voting-rights case to the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal to the Solyndra green boondoggle bankruptcy and Gitmo closure plans — all while touting a new “Open Plan for Government” from which he has conveniently exempted himself.
And in case you'd forgotten, Obama set the tone by breaking his transparency pledge with the very first bill he signed into law. In January 2009, the White House announced that the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act had been posted online for review. Oops: Obama had already signed it — in violation of his “sunlight before signing” pledge to post legislation for public comment on the White House website five days before he sealed any deal.
When Obama vowed that “transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” he didn't mean “touchstones.” He meant sinkholes.
Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2009).