When President Barack Obama took office, he promised Americans the most transparent administration in history. Just the opposite has occurred.
The situation is getting worse, according to a study of the federal government's responses to requests for records. The Associated Press found that "the government's efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office."
Federal bureaucrats cited "national security" considerations to withhold records 8,496 times last year. That is more than twice the rate of Obama's first year in office.
President Barack Obama
Much worse was the record on use of another exemption from Freedom of Information Act rules. In 81,752 situations, the government refused to provide documents because they involved how decisions were made.
AP analysts found that more than one-third of the 704,394 requests for information from the government last year were denied.
In recent years, federal departments have cracked down especially hard on employees leaking information to the public, reinforcing that keeping secrets from the public is a top priority of this administration.
Adding insult is the fact that, far more than any presidential administration in history, this one wants to know more about you. The National Security Agency has been collecting all kinds of data, from phone records to online activity, about millions of Americans and foreigners. Yet more than ever, this government shuts you out of what it's up to.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said withholding records "becomes too much of a temptation. If you screw up in government, just mark it 'top secret.'"
Precisely. Obama's administration has become one of the most secretive in history because federal officials don't want the public to know how its business is being handled.
We think that's worthwhile to mention during this year's Sunshine Week, an annual time for Americans to talk about the importance of openness in government.
The president can and should open the curtains and let some sunlight in. It would greatly increase public trust in their leaders.