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TRANSPARENCY: Is Governor Newsom’s Office Trying to Keep Documents Secret Over Rushed Passage of Utilities’ Bailout? “State officials, under the direction of Gov. Newsom, are engaged in a pattern of delaying or denying the public access to relevant public records.”

TRANSPARENCY: NYT Insider Reveals Who Drafted And Sent The Vile Tweet About Kavanaugh. It was Robin Pogrebin. That boosts the “reckless disregard” angle, since the book makes clear there was no basis.

ALGORITHMIC TRANSPARENCY: Do Citizens Have A Right To See The Algorithms Used By Publicly-Funded Software?

USELESS: The EU releases guidelines to encourage ethical AI development.

Human agency and oversight: AI systems should enable equitable societies by supporting human agency and fundamental rights, and not decrease, limit or misguide human autonomy.

Robustness and safety: Trustworthy AI requires algorithms to be secure, reliable and robust enough to deal with errors or inconsistencies during all life cycle phases of AI systems.

Privacy and data governance: Citizens should have full control over their own data, while data concerning them will not be used to harm or discriminate against them.

Transparency: The traceability of AI systems should be ensured.

Diversity, non-discrimination and fairness: AI systems should consider the whole range of human abilities, skills and requirements, and ensure accessibility.

Societal and environmental well-being: AI systems should be used to enhance positive social change and enhance sustainability and ecological responsibility.

Accountability: Mechanisms should be put in place to ensure responsibility and accountability for AI systems and their outcomes.

True AI is self-programming, so what’s to stop it from writing code to get around any human-imposed limits?

PELOSI’S HOUSE TO MODERNIZE BUT FORGET MORE TRANSPARENCY: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said voters in November 2018 demanded a Congress that is more “ethical, transparent, unifying, and responsive.” So she created the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.

The committee heard from 30 witnesses — all members of Congress — at its recent first hearing but hardly anybody said anything about making the legislative branch more transparent. I know, you aren’t surprised, either, but you won’t believe some of the stuff these guys did suggest.


TRANSPARENCY: Hospitals Must Now Post Prices. But It May Take a Brain Surgeon to Decipher Them.

TRANSPARENCY: University of Tennessee launches transparency database that includes contracts, salaries.

Want to know about a University of Tennessee contract? How about a UT employee’s salary?

Those items and more will be available online as part of interim President Randy Boyd’s push to make it easier to find information about the UT System.

The initiative, called “Transparent UT,” will provide public access to information in a centralized online location. The website includes many items often requested of the school system. . . .

Boyd said accountability and transparency is central to who he is as a businessman. Since his appointment as interim president in September, many residents have said they’d like to see more information about how the UT system operates as well as data on its school’s outcomes, he said.

“Not that we haven’t been transparent before, but we will be even more so,” said Boyd during a meeting last week with The Tennessean’s editorial board.

“The core way to empowerment is information.”

The site,, will include:

Information on enrollment, student demographics, degrees awarded, retention, graduation rates, post-graduation outcomes, student quality indicators, the number of faculty, faculty workload, research activity, economic development, revenues and expenditures;
Information about the university’s presence and impact in each county;
A searchable employee salary database;
Tuition information;
Executive staff and coaching contracts for each campus;
Information about how the system is funded and how funds are spent;
Other various annual reports;
And endowment investment information.

Some of this stuff — like salaries — was already online but hard to find, but this will put it all together and I think it’s a good idea.

TRANSPARENCY: Yes, let’s see the emails that led to Deborah Ramirez’s accusation against Kavanaugh.

TRANSPARENCY: House Intelligence Committee votes to release controversial GOP surveillance memo.

UPDATE: And note something that’s being spun away in coverage:

TRANSPARENCY: Trump will allow release of classified JFK assassination files.

Flashback: JFK’S Death Split The American Psyche.

TRANSPARENCY: Judicial Watch: Justice Department Blacks Out Talking Points on Lynch-Clinton Tarmac Meeting.

TRANSPARENCY: Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer discusses USAFacts, his “10-K for government”

GeekWire: Your new project is called USAFacts. You’ve described it as a 10-K for government. Can you explain what it is?

Steve Ballmer: USAFacts is an initiative, if you will — which we’ll publish in PDF, we’ve got a nice website, a lot of different things — but it’s an initiative designed to really simplify and give clear focus to what’s going on with our government. How much money do we take in? How much money do we spend? Against what set of goals? And what kind of outcomes does government get? We take a whole new perspective. We innovated in a number of ways. You won’t find anything like it on the web. We innovated in terms of taking a decision-maker focus — being goal-oriented, not program-oriented.

We looked at the Constitution and said, “what’s the mission of government? Let’s break it down by mission and ask how we’re doing.” The 10-K analogy isn’t bad, but unlike a business, it’s about what you achieve for the citizens first and then how you pay for it as opposed to making money, if you will, or making a profit. We are very citizen-oriented, so it’s not just what the government does for citizens overall, but it’s what the government actually does for specific groups of citizens. And so we look at 10 different groups of citizens and we say, “How does what government do impact a variety of different citizen types?” And that’s kind of what we are.

Now if only Washington would look at the Constitution and say, “What’s the mission of government?”

TRANSPARENCY: House Approves Bill to Force Public Release of EPA Science.

Science is the unfettered pursuit of truth, subject to public scrutiny, debate, and peer review.

You don’t want to be against science, do you?

TRANSPARENCY: State Supreme Court Says California Officials Can No Longer Hide Documents In Personal Email Accounts And Devices. It’s not like they’re the Obama Administration or something.

TRANSPARENCY: California Law Enforcement Union Sues To Block Police Accountability.

TRANSPARENCY: #CNNLeaks: Project Veritas Releases Over 100 Hours of Audio From Inside CNN.

More at

TRANSPARENCY: Is James O’Keefe About To Smoke CNN? Tells Hannity He’s Set To Release “Hundreds of Hours” Of Newsroom Footage “Wikileaks Style.” Why should journalists be immune from investigative journalism?

Well, when you have people like Mika Brzezinski saying that it’s “our job” to “control what people think,” a little transparency is in order.

Related: MTV News reporter admits joining anti-Trump protests.

TRANSPARENCY: Obama’s Science Officer Defies Court, Keeps Private Emails Secret.

A federal appeals court ruled in July 2016 that Holdren must release to a lower magistrate all work-related emails on the account. The emails are being sought by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free-market nonprofit foundation.

White House officials told the court there are no undisclosed work-related emails, but CEI disputes that contention. (RELATED: DOE Does Little To Stop Senior Officials From Using Private Emails)

“CEI contends that OSTP is attempting to re-litigate the issue on which it already lost in the circuit,” CEI said in a statement Wednesday. “Moreover, OSTP’s has provided no reason to believe that Holdren has in fact forwarded all of his relevant private emails.”

Laws are for the little people — at least until January 20.

I’M SO OLD I REMEMBER WHEN PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA WAS PROMISING TRANSPARENCY: Snowden’s ‘Proper Channel’ For Whistleblowing Being Booted From The NSA For Retaliating Against A Whistleblower.

But no worries. As of January 20, 2017, whistleblowing will be patriotic again!

TRANSPARENCY: Department of Energy Refuses to Tell Trump Team Who’s Working on Climate Change.

Secretary Rick Perry should send a few heads rolling and see if that doesn’t loosen a few lips.

TRANSPARENCY: Exclusive: Internal documents detail secret VA quality ratings.

TRANSPARENCY: Obama’s Pentagon Suppresses Study Finding $125 Billion in Wasteful Spending.

That’s $125 billion annually.

President Barack Obama’s Pentagon discredited and suppressed an internal probe that uncovered $125 billion in wasteful spending on the enormous administrative operations primarily ran by civilians and contractors.

The money could have been reinvested in payment for troops, weapons, and renovating the aging nuclear arsenal, the Washington Post (WaPo) has learned.

The Defense Business Board produced the study in January 2015 by a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, in coordination with consultants from McKinsey and Company.


U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) leaders – namely Deputy Defense Secretary Robert O. Work, the Pentagon’s second-highest-ranking official, and Frank Kendall III, the Pentagon’s chief weapons-buyer – reportedly buried the report by discrediting and suppressing its findings after the study discovered far more wasteful spending than the department expected.

According to the study, DoD is spending about 23 percent ($134 billion) of its $580 billion on back-office business operations, namely accounting, human resources and logistics and property management.

If we had as much military power as we actually pay for, we’d be the United States of Earth and Neighboring Satellites and Planets by now.

TRANSPARENCY: Dad Has to Find Out About Daughter’s School Bus Accident From Facebook.

TRANSPARENCY: Facebook Says It Found More Miscalculated Metrics.

TRANSPARENCY: Six lessons from a five-year FOIA battle.

TRANSPARENCY: The White House Asked Congress To Keep Quiet On Russian Hacking.

In a statement released Friday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff, the vice-chairmen of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, respectively, formally accused Russia of attempting to influence the US election. It was the first official, on-record confirmation from US government officials that the Kremlin is actively working to manipulate public confidence in the country’s election system.

But sources tell BuzzFeed News that the White House — which has stayed silent despite mounting pressure to call out its Moscow adversaries — tried to delay the statement’s release. The public accusation was of such concern to the administration that White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was personally involved in the negotiations over releasing it, according to a congressional source.

The White House convinced Feinstein and Schiff, both Democrats, to omit part of their original statement for security reasons, according to another congressional source.

It’s a testament to America’s inherent strengths that between Russia’s hacking and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s unsecured email server that we haven’t found ourselves in a major war already.

TRANSPARENCY: VA quit sending performance data to national health care quality site.

For years, the VA provided data on a number of criteria to the Hospital Compare web site run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in the Department of Health and Human Services. The site includes death and readmission rates and other measures of quality for public and private hospitals around the country, as well as national averages.

After the VA scandal, Congress passed the law mandating the VA to submit even more data. But the VA confirmed to USA TODAY last week that it stopped reporting its information July 1.

Joe Francis, director of clinical analytics and reporting at the Veterans Health Administration, said lawyers at HHS advised the VA to pull the plug until the two agencies could work out a new deal governing the sharing of information.

It must be nice, one executive branch department negotiating with an executive branch agency over how (or whether?) they’ll follow a law from Congress.

TRANSPARENCY: Soros Empire Concealed Ties to WH-Linked Liberal Jewish Lobby J Street, Hacked Documents Show.

TRANSPARENCY: Congress receives FBI material on Hillary Clinton emails.

In a statement, the FBI said the materials were provided to Congress consistent with the agency’s “commitment to transparency” in the Clinton case. The material contains classified information and was provided “with the expectation it will not be disseminated or disclosed” without the FBI’s agreement, the agency said Tuesday.

Furious the FBI didn’t press charges against their political rival, House Republicans pressed the agency to release notes from its agents’ July interview with Clinton. They claim the FBI notes, which are typically kept confidential after an investigation is closed, may show Clinton provided inconsistent answers to questions about her handling of emails containing classified information during testimony last year before the House Benghazi panel.

Republicans are also demanding that the Justice Department open a new investigation into whether Clinton lied to Congress.

That doesn’t really require an investigation, does it?

TRANSPARENCY: FBI confirms special secrecy agreements for agents in Clinton email probe.

A July 1 letter sent by a senior deputy to FBI Director James Comey to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, detailed the restrictions on agents. The letter, reviewed by Fox News, confirmed agents signed a “Case Briefing Acknowledgement” which says the disclosure of information is “strictly prohibited” without prior approval, and those who sign are subject to lie detector tests.

The fix was always in.

TRANSPARENCY: Hillary Clinton has not held a press conference since December 4th, 2015 when she answered 7 questions.

SO MUCH FOR PRIVACY: The New York Slimes Times editorial board laments that “Political Dark Money Just Got Darker.”  After (again) bashing the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, the NYT editors focus on the liberal/progressive campaign finance cause du jour: mandating disclosure of the identity of donors to 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations, such as some tea party groups, the National Organization for Women, AARP, various ACLU chapters, right to life committees, kennel clubs, Rotary clubs, environmental groups, fan clubs, and voting rights organizations.

The rationale for such disclosure? So-called “dark” money. In the words of the NYT editors:

In the new budget bill, Republicans inserted a provision blocking the Internal Revenue Service from creating rules to curb the growing abuse of the tax law by thinly veiled political machines posing as “social welfare” organizations. These groups are financed by rich special-interest donors who do not have to reveal their identities under the tax law. So much for effective disclosure at the I.R.S.

In another move to keep the public blindfolded about who is writing big corporate checks for federal candidates, the Republicans barred the Securities and Exchange Commission from finalizing rules requiring corporations to disclose their campaign spending to investors. It was Citizens United that foolishly envisioned a world in which: “Shareholders can determine whether their corporation’s political speech advances the corporation’s interest in making profits, and citizens can see whether elected officials are ‘in the pocket’ of so-called moneyed interests.”

In acting to seal that pocket and hobble the I.R.S., congressional Republicans are advancing what has become the dark age of plutocratic money in campaign spending. At every turn, they are veiling the truth about the special-interest ties they have with rich donors shopping for favors. Since the Citizens United decision in January 2010, politicians have collected more than $500 million in dark money from phantom donors, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, with hundreds of millions more expected in the current campaign.

Since the people’s elected representatives have so foolishly thwarted the liberals’/progressives’ attempt to invade individual privacy in the guise of “disclosure,” the NYT editors have this modest proposal:

Is there any ray of light in this moneyed darkness?

For two years, President Obama has dithered and withheld the one blow he could easily strike for greater political transparency: the signing of an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose their campaign spending. This would not solve the overall problem, but in mandating new disclosures in time for the 2016 elections it would help affirm that democracy is about transparency. Mr. Obama should sign the order now. If Republicans want to make an issue of this, let them — and let them defend the scourge of dark money before the voters on the campaign trail.

That’s classic. An iconic liberal/progressive newspaper’s editorial board, frustrated by the “inaction” (i.e., disagreement) by Congress on its liberal/progressive agenda, is demanding that the President “go around” Congress to issue an executive order mandating disclosure of the identities of donors to 501(c)(4) organizations that have government contracts.

I guess liberals/progressives only value individual privacy when it comes in the form of de-identified metadata about cell phone calls and “democracy” only when it creates results with which it agrees. Big Brother wants to know to whom you are giving your money, so that it can bring you out of the “darkness” of privacy.  And if the people’s elected representatives won’t force you out of the “darkness,” one person–the President–should do it unilaterally. Nice.

TRANSPARENCY: EPA seeks to block chief’s deposition in coal lawsuit.

The Environmental Protection Agency is working to block a deposition for administrator Gina McCarthy as part of a coal industry lawsuit.

In a Tuesday court filing, the EPA asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to block a scheduled deposition in a case brought against the agency by coal giant Murray Energy Corp.

Murray has sued the EPA over its rules agenda, arguing that the agency doesn’t properly consider the job impact of its regulations before issuing them. It has petitioned to have McCarthy deposed in the case, something scheduled for later this month.
The EPA has looked to avoid the deposition, and argued that a lower court has taken too long to rule on its stay request.

Alternative headline: Don’t question me, peasants!

TRANSPARENCY: Sacramento Mayor Sues Own City, Local Journalist To Keep Public Records From Being Made Public.

Kevin Johnson: Three-time NBA All-Star. Former (embattled) president of the National Council of Black Mayors. Outgoing (non-embattled) president of the US Conference of Mayors. Frequent litigant. Destroyer of public records. Suer of his own city. Only a couple of these can be considered flattering.

In his latest litigious effort, Mayor Johnson is mounting a multi-pronged attack on both a Sacramento journalist and his city government. At the center of it are documents Johnson claims should be exempt from public records requests: emails sent from his personal Gmail account but which discuss official business.

See, he should have had his own email server.

TRANSPARENCY: Google will publicly report every self-driving car crash.

TRANSPARENCY: Federal agencies stiff-arm FOIA requests.

TRANSPARENCY: David Brin on Life After The Sony Hack.

TRANSPARENCY: Reprisals Against Whistleblowers In Military Hospital Care. “Physicians, nurses and medical workers at military hospitals say they have been brushed off, transferred, investigated and passed over for promotion after they pointed out problems with care.” Par for the course these days.

TRANSPARENCY: No Author, No Law.

The reason behind Dodd-Frank’s rendition of this common requirement is straightforward: If Wall Street conglomerates are able to use our bank deposits — which are meant to be kept safe — in addition to their own money to gamble on speculative derivative instruments, then (a) there will be much more gambling of precisely the kind that brought us the 2008 crash; and (b) we taxpayers, rather than Wall Street, will cover the losses that the next crash occasions. We will, in other words, be bailing out Wall Street all over again — socializing losses even as Wall Street continues to privatize gains for itself.

This is, of course, perfectly disgusting. But what is yet worse is that no one will “own” it — presumably because it is so disgusting. We still do not know who inserted the provision, nor do we know why. All that we know is that whoever did it did it both (a) surreptitiously, apparently in hopes no one would notice, and (b) at the last minute, in connection with a continuing resolution cum omnibus spending bill, apparently in hopes of holding continued government operation itself hostage to the provision’s getting through.

Perhaps I am overreacting, but it seems to me that the way in which this provision has found its way into the cromnibus legislation is deeply subversive of our democracy. The aim, after all, is apparently both (a) to circumvent what would otherwise be a necessary agreement secured both transparently and free of budgetary time pressure, and (b) to render the party or parties whose consent is thus circumvented unaware of the guilt or identity of the guilty party.

Every provision of every bill should be directly traceable to individual members of Congress.

That said, so long as we’re in the current boat, could some InstaPundit reader who works on Capitol Hill insert language in the next debacle of a bill that retroactively frees me of income tax back to 2010, and gives me the right to commandeer federal jets for my personal travel? I’d kind of fancy taking Air Force One on one of my dive trips. Also, I’ll bet that would encourage better oversight in the future. . . .

TRANSPARENCY: Party fundraising provision, crafted in secret, could shift money flow in politics. “A massive expansion of party fundraising slipped into a congressional budget deal this week would fundamentally alter how money flows into political campaigns, providing parties with new muscle to try to wrest power back from independent groups. The provision — one of the most significant changes to the campaign finance system since the landmark McCain-Feingold measure — was written behind closed doors with no public debate.”

TRANSPARENCY: Bad Things Happen To Govt. Whistleblowers.

What happened to Peterson is not unusual, according to outside watchdogs, members of Congress and a review of recent media reports involving whistleblower retaliation at numerous federal agencies.

The pattern is predictable:

The whistleblower reports wrongdoing to the inspector general.

The IG does nothing except forward the complaint to the agency.

The agency retaliates against the whistleblower.

“They never listen to whistleblowers,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, a longtime champion of protecting those who expose agency wrongdoing. “They are punishing whistleblowers instead of considering them good, patriotic Americans. They are treated like a skunk at a picnic.”

A recent twist is that agencies are now using IGs to retaliate against whistleblowers or silence them by threatening criminal investigations rather than just personnel actions, said Tom Devine, legal director for the nonpartisan Government Accountability Project.

Criminal investigations conducted by the IGs mean agencies do not have to contend with complex personnel rules or whistleblower protection laws, Devine said.

Trumped-up charges can be anything from accusing the whistleblower of making threats to disclosing classified information, Devine said. The effect is intimidation.

What Michael Barone calls “gangster government.”

TRANSPARENCY: Justice Dept. List of Withheld Fast & Furious Docs is 1,323 Pages Long.

TRANSPARENCY: Obama’s New Ebola Czar Refuses To Testify.

The White House’s new Ebola czar will not testify before lawmakers Friday on the U.S. response to the epidemic.

Ron Klain, a Democratic operative, was named as the Obama administration’s point man on Ebola last Friday and will assume the job Wednesday.

Two days after that, the House Oversight Committee will hold a hearing on the government’s Ebola response, with Klain among those invited to testify.

The White House declined the invitation on Monday, according to a source close to the back-and-forth.

To be fair, he’ll have only been on the job 48 hours, though that itself raises questions about the White House’s seriousness.

UPDATE: Hey, we’ve gone five whole days without a new Ebola case! Success already!

TRANSPARENCY: Ebola Czar Vanishes from Democracy Alliance Website; Ron Klain no longer listed as a trustee for Third Way.

Third Way, a progressive think tank with ties to the Democracy Alliance, has removed newly appointed Ebola czar Ron Klain from its website, following a Washington Free Beacon report.

The Free Beacon reported Friday on Klain’s status as a trustee for Third Way, and his past experience lobbying on behalf of a drug company that was accused of denying life-saving drugs to dying cancer patients.

Good practice for the Ebola Death Panels, I guess.

TRANSPARENCY: Obama administration has secured 526 months of jail time for leakers. “Up until Obama’s ‘most transparent administration’, and throughout the entire history of the USA, national security leakers had received a total of 24 months of jail time. There are many more cases pending.”

UPDATE: Sharyl Attkisson: 19 Times the Government Withheld Documents It Didn’t Want You to See.

TRANSPARENCY: White House rejects media’s demand for openness, reporters slap ‘bunch of spin.’

A SMALL VICTORY FOR TRANSPARENCY: Ethics Committee will reverse travel disclosure rule change. “House Ethics Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, Texas Republican, said Thursday the committee plans to reverse its controversial change to disclosure laws requiring lawmakers to report free trips on their public annual disclosure reports. . . . The news agency first reported the scandalous rule change earlier this week, revealing that the committee had made a closed-door decision to delete the requirement that lawmakers report their all-expenses paid travel, without any public announcement of the change.”

TRANSPARENCY: Medical staff warned: Keep your mouths shut about illegal immigrants or face arrest. “A government-contracted security force threatened to arrest doctors and nurses if they divulged any information about the contagion threat at a refugee camp housing illegal alien children at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, sources say. In spite of the threat, several former camp workers broke their confidentiality agreements and shared exclusive details with me about the dangerous conditions at the camp.”

TRANSPARENCY: Another federal judge tells IRS to explain itself on lost emails.

IRS attorneys will be even busier than normal next week, because another federal judge has told them to show up in court July 11 to defend the federal tax agency.

They will have to explain to U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton why the IRS shouldn’t be required to let an outside expert evaluate whether emails on the computer hard drives of former IRS official Lois Lerner and six colleagues really are lost forever, as the agency recently told Congress.

Responding to a motion filed Monday by True the Vote, a Houston-based conservative nonprofit at the center of IRS targeting during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns, Walton issued an order Tuesday to hear arguments next week.

The IRS recently told Congress that a mysterious crash of the hard drives last year irretrievably destroyed nearly two years of emails to and from Lerner and the others to and from people in other federal agencies, including the White House.

But True the Vote wants a digital forensics expert from outside the IRS to assess the evidence.

I don’t think it was all that “mysterious.”

TRANSPARENCY: McClatchy: Border agency’s watchdog under investigation for coverup. “The internal affairs division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is being investigated for falsifying documents, intentionally misplacing employee complaints and bungling misconduct reports as part of a coverup to mask its failure to curb employee wrongdoing, a McClatchy investigation has found.”

It’s as if the federal government has just become a lawless mob.

TRANSPARENCY: Washington Free Beacon reporter barred from University of Arkansas archives after two damaging stories based on archival research.

UPDATE: The Free Beacon responds. A pretty major slap-down from the folks at Covington & Burling.

TRANSPARENCY: Judge Says NSA Can Continue To Destroy Evidence.

TRANSPARENCY: U.S. Marshals Seize Cops’ Spying Records to Keep Them From the ACLU.

TRANSPARENCY: Judicial Watch Obtains 106-Page HHS Document Revealing Scope of Obamacare Rollout Disaster. Some highlights:

On October 1, there were 43,208 accounts created and 1 enrollment. (Page 49)

As of October 31, 2013, there were 1,319,425 accounts created nationwide – but only 30,512 actual enrollments in Obamacare. (Page 19)

On October 1, 2013, at the end of the first day (4:30), the Senior Advisor at Center forConsumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Brigid M. Russell, sent out an email to her staff with a subject line celebrating “2 enrollments!” The body copy of the email read: “We have our second official FFM enrollment! The first two Form 834s sent out are to: 1) CareSource in Ohio, 2) BCBS of North Carolina. (Page 90)

Official figures contained in the HHS report provide conflicting figures as to the number of enrollments. FFM [Federally Facilitated Marketplace] statistics show 23,259 cumulative to-date applications submitted as of 10/2/13 and 286 completed plan selections. Earlier numbers show 356 enrollments created as of 7pm on 10/2/13 that were completed with Form 834s sent. (Pages 91-92)

An October 2, 2013, email from HHS Special Assistant Marianne Bowen indicated serious problems with congressional enrollments: “The Congressional issue (68 attempts for Direct enrollment) was an issue stemming from incomplete applications being sent through (started, not finished, sent anyway) and the way the issuers are assigning unique numbers. Turns out there were only 4 complete Direct Enrollment applications that went through, the other 64 were not complete.” (Page 93) [The U.S. Congress has approximately 24,000 professional staffers.]

On October 2, 2013, the Obamacare website had 70,000 page views but only 5,000 were unique visitors, and 48% of registrations failed. The large number of page views may have been the result of visitors repeatedly hitting the “refresh” button due to long waiting times. (Page 106)

Follow the link for more.

TRANSPARENCY: IRS Stonewalling FOIA Request Surrounding Correspondence With Democratic Members of Congress.

On May 21, 2013 the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent the IRS a Freedom of Information Act request asking for “any and all documents or records, including but not limited to electronic documents, e-mails, paper documents, photographs (electronic or hard copy), or audio files,” related to correspondence from January 1, 2009 and May 21, 2013 between thirteen different Democrat members of Congress and top IRS officials. Those officials include former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman, former Commissioner Steven Miller, senior IRS official Joseph Grant and former head of tax exempt groups Lois Lerner. Members of Congress named in the request include Sen. Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Reid (D-NV), DSCC Chair Sen. Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Pryor (D-AR), Sen. Hagan (D-NC), Sen. Begich (D-AK), Sen. Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), Sen. Franken (D-MN), Sen. Warner (D-VA), Rep. Braley and Rep. Peters (D-MI).

Since that request was received by the IRS nearly one year ago, IRS Tax Law Specialists Robert Thomas and Denise Higley have asked for more time to fulfill the request six times.

January of 2017 looks do-able.

TRANSPARENCY: US government to put all of its spending data online.

TRANSPARENCY: ABC News: Monica Lewinsky E-Mail Omitted From Latest Batch of Clinton Documents. “Vaguely referenced as concerning a ‘medical record,’ the omitted email is listed as four pages long.” Hmm. What could that be about?

TRANSPARENCY: Criminal Defense Group Sues DOJ Over ‘Discovery Blue Book.’

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers today sued the U.S. Department of Justice over public access to a criminal discovery “blue book” that was written after the collapse of the case against Ted Stevens.

The Justice Department last year turned down a request from the NACDL for a copy of the Federal Criminal Discovery Blue Book. The lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Justice Department officials, according to the complaint, cited the book as an example of why federal legislation was unnecessary to prevent future discovery abuses among prosecutors.

During a hearing on Capitol Hill, in 2012, the Justice Department said the blue book was “distributed to prosecutors nationwide in 2011” and “is now electronically available on the desktop of every federal prosecutor and paralegal,” according to the NACDL complaint.

So it can’t be all that secret. If it actually exists. . . .

WELL, AT LEAST THEY’RE INCREASINGLY ASHAMED. THAT’S SOME PROGRESS: Transparency: Senators’ Debt Limit Votes Kept Off Microphones; Reporters Protest.

On an average day, any C-SPAN viewer would know how senators voted in real time because votes are read aloud. (See our post on the six senators who appear to have changed their votes.)

But on Wednesday, the clerks did not name names. Instead of announcing the rolling vote tally as the vote went along on the critical motion to limit debate on the debt limit measure, senators were allowed to cast their votes in relative secrecy. Overlooked at the time, it has since caught the attention of numerous reporters.

After organizations representing journalists complained and a few hours after this story was published, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s spokesman Adam Jentleson gave CQ Roll Call a statement explaining the switch.

“After the vote began, it was quickly clear that Republican leaders were struggling to deliver enough votes to clear the 60-vote hurdle upon which they had insisted instead of a simple majority, and a potentially catastrophic default suddenly seemed possible. At Senate Republicans’ request, the clerk did not call the names during the vote to make it easier for Republican leaders to convince their members to switch their votes,” he said.

Jentleson said the request ”is consistent with Senate rules.”

“Senator Reid believed that protecting the full faith and credit of the United States and avoiding a default that could have disastrous consequences for anyone with a bank account were the most important objectives. For this reason and as a courtesy to his Republican colleagues, he consented to Republicans’ request,” Jentleson continued.

Well, they should be ashamed.

TRANSPARENCY: Issa, Cummings Feud Over Investigation Into Navy Yard Security Clearances. “Do you Google the person?”

TRANSPARENCY: Yale Blocks Course-Rating Website.

SUDDENLY, THEY’RE COST-CONSCIOUS: Transparency: Obama Opposes Weekly Reports on ObamaCare.

TRANSPARENCY: Dem Senator Mark Udall Asked State To Cook Books On ObamaCare Cancellation Figures. “At the height of controversy surrounding President Obama’s promises on the federal health care overhaul, U.S. Senator Mark Udall’s office worked assiduously to revise press accounts that 249,000 Coloradans received health care cancellation notices. Because the 249,000 figure was produced inside the Colorado Division of Insurance, Udall’s office lobbied that agency to revise the figure, or revise their definition of what qualified as a cancellation.”

TRANSPARENCY: ObamaCare’s New Metrics Clear As Mud.

All the vagueness probably helps the administration. When your project is having difficulties, the ideal performance measurement is a relatively easy metric that sounds like something much more stringent. I once did work for a client whose previous consultant had insisted that his promises of “less than 1 percent server down time” had been accurate because the server was on, even if it was refusing to let any users access its files. Amazingly, the client went along with this for almost two months before firing him. In its defense, the company was run by English majors.*

Ultimately, there’s only one metric that really matters: enrollment. Are a lot of people signing up? And does that number contain a good percentage of young, healthy people, or is it mostly the old and the sick? Is their information being correctly transmitted to insurers?

We’ll have a better idea about this when the next round of enrollment figures is released in December — well, unless the administration also chooses weirdly vague metrics for enrollment.

But even if we get hard numbers, early December is leaving it awfully late; folks who are losing their current policies need to buy new ones by Dec. 15. If the system is really and truly broken, there’s a real risk that we’ll only know that for certain long past the point where it’s too late to do anything about it.

Repeal, and pass a new bill featuring interstate insurance sales and HSAs.

TRANSPARENCY: Utah Won’t Disclose Records On Police Militarization.

One of the main forces behind the mass militarization of America’s police officers has been the Pentagon’s 1033 and 1122 programs, which makes surplus military equipment — think guns, tanks, helicopters, grenade launchers, etc. — available to police agencies across the country for almost nothing. (Usually, they pay only the cost of shipping.) As I reported last spring, the ACLU is currently engaged in a nationwide effort to collect information about how this equipment is being used.

In Utah, Connor Boyack of the libertarian-leaning Libertas Institute recently filed a state open records request with the Utah Department of Administrative Services. (Possibly the most bureaucratically-named agency ever.) Boyack wanted information on how Utah police agencies are using the 1033 program, and what sorts of stuff they’re getting from it. His request was rejected.

None of your business, peasant.

TRANSPARENCY: Lengthy Senate Report Reveals EPA FOIA Abuses.

TRANSPARENCY: SF fire chief bans helmet cameras in wake of crash. “San Francisco’s fire chief has explicitly banned firefighters from using helmet-mounted video cameras, after images from a battalion chief’s Asiana Airlines crash recording became public and led to questions about first responders’ actions leading up to a fire rig running over a survivor.”

TRANSPARENCY: Dana Milbank: The price Gina Gray paid for whistleblowing.

President Obama, in his news conference this month, said that Edward Snowden was wrong to go public with revelations about secret surveillance programs because “there were other avenues available for somebody whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions.”

This is a common refrain among administration officials and some lawmakers: If only Snowden had made his concerns known through the proper internal channels, everything would have turned out well. The notion sounds reasonable, as do the memorandums Obama signed supposedly protecting whistleblowers.

But it’s a load of nonsense. Ask Gina Gray.

Gray is the Defense Department whistleblower whose case I have been following for five years. She was the Army civilian worker who, before and after her employment, exposed much of the wrongdoing at Arlington National Cemetery — misplaced graves, mishandled remains and financial mismanagement — and she attempted to do it through the proper internal channels. Pentagon sources have confirmed to me her crucial role in bringing the scandal to light.

For her troubles, Gray was fired. . . . Sadly, Gray’s case is emblematic of the way this administration has handled whistleblowers. Obama came into office pledging transparency and professing admiration for government workers who expose abuses. But his administration has pursued more cases under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined (including the prosecution of National Security Agency workers who tried to register their objections through “proper” channels). And the alleged intimidation of would-be whistleblowers goes beyond those involved in sensitive intelligence. For example, diplomat Gregory Hicks told a House committee that he was demoted because he gave congressional investigators a description of the attack on Americans in Benghazi, Libya, that was at odds with the official version of events.

It’s Chicago Rules. You see something, you say nothing.

TRANSPARENCY: White House Tried To Interfere With Washington Post’s Report, And To Change Quotes From NSA.

TRANSPARENCY: Secret Court that Swears it Isn’t a Rubber Stamp Renews NSA Telephone Snooping Program.

TRANSPARENCY: Emails reveal how accuracy was scrubbed out of Benghazi ‘talking points.’

TRANSPARENCY: MapBox Plans to Bring You Super-Fresh Satellite Imagery.

Basically, MapBox will be your GIS person. Herwig says the plan is to make ready-to-go processed imagery available for purchase on an image-by-image basis to people with MapBox accounts (signing up is free), the same way songs are available to people with iTunes accounts.

And these images will be fresh. How fresh? Their goal is to have images all over the globe available six hours after they’re acquired. Unless you’re the CIA or NSA or the military, six hours is practically real-time in the realm of Earth from space. The key is knowing how to process the images in a really quick way that can scale up — something the MapBox guys tell me they can do. If they are right, this will mean I will be able to easily get the most recent image of any spot on the globe, and so will you.


UPDATE: Link was wrong before. Fixed now. Sorry!

TRANSPARENCY: White House vetoes public seeing Obama’s thanks to librarians.

White House officials vetoed all public airing of a video of President Obama thanking the American Library Association Sunday for helping inform the public about Obamacare.

“We were specifically told by the White House to only show it [the video] once to conference attendees, and [the] White House said we aren’t able to send it out,” Jazzy Wright, Press Officer for ALA’s Washington, D.C. office, told the Washington Examiner.

The ALA, which is a tax-exempt 501(C)(3) foundation, agreed last weekend during its annual meeting in Chicago to help the president get the word out about Obamacare.

As a result of the partnership between Obama and the group, librarians across the country will be “navigators” handing out White House-approved information about the new government health insurance program.

These things defy parody.

TRANSPARENCY: House members remain concerned after FBI/NSA briefing on PRISM. Plus, from Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA): “I did not know a billion records a day were coming under control of the executive branch.”

TRANSPARENCY: Associated Press: Secret mails of top Obama appointees remain a mystery. Plus, a press shakedown scandal?

TRANSPARENCY: Benghazi Emails Directly Contradict White House Claims.

TRANSPARENCY: State Department shuts down Benghazi questions: ‘You’ll have to take my word for it.’

TRANSPARENCY: One hospital charges $8,000 — another, $38,000. “Consumers on Wednesday will finally get some answers about one of modern life’s most persistent mysteries: how much medical care actually costs. For the first time, the federal government will release the prices that hospitals charge for the 100 most common inpatient procedures. Until now, these charges have been closely held by facilities that see a competitive advantage in shielding their fees from competitors. What the numbers reveal is a health-care system with tremendous, seemingly random variation in the costs of services.”

You could do more for real cost control by requiring hospitals to publish fixed prices for most procedures than from any amount of bureaucratic fiddling — though such an approach would provide disappointingly few opportunities for graft.

TRANSPARENCY: Another lawsuit filed for EPA official’s private emails. “Yet another Environmental Protection Agency official used his private email account to conduct government business, according to a lawsuit from the watchdog that has recently exposed similar transparency violations at the agency. . . . Federal law and EPA policy bans conducting public work from from personal accounts, in order to facilitate government transparency. In February, another regional administrator resigned in the midst of an investigation into his use of a private account for government work. Before that, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson resigned as lawmakers investigated her use of a private email account under the alias ‘Richard Windsor.'”

TRANSPARENCY: White House won’t comment on failure to show massive tax burden of the ‘one percent.’

TRANSPARENCY: Obscuring regulation: How the Obama administration violates its own executive order. “In Sunstein’s rendering, it appears that everyone is responsible for the shape and scope of environmental policy in this administration. Which means no one is accountable.”

TRANSPARENCY: EPA memo promises emphasis on transparency after FOIA lawsuits.

Acting Administrator Robert Persiacepe circulated an agency-wide warning to Environmental Protection Agency employees yesterday about complying with the federal Freedom of Information Act.

Persiacepe’s memo was issued as EPA faces a growing controversy in the news media and federal courts sparked by revelations earlier this year that his predecessor used a fake email name to conduct official business. . . .

The EPA has been hit with a series of lawsuits seeking emails and instant messages and accusing the agency of hiding information from watchdog groups. The most recent lawsuit, filed last week by the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the American Traditions Institute, seeks to force the agency to disclose how evenly its transparency policies are applied to environmental groups and transparency watchdogs.

“It is clear from Bob Perciasepe’s memo that our IM lawsuit prompted discovery of more EPA violations of record-keeping and disclosure laws,” said Chris Horner, lead attorney in the EPA FOIA suit. ”His mention of IMs for the first time publicly indicates EPA is about to reveal whether it has been sloppy, deceitful, or possibly even criminal in its refusals to turn these records over to FOIA requesters and Congress.”

Horner said he suspects the EPA has been destroying IM chat records to avoid being forced to release them.

Related: OMB nominee ‘uncomfortable’ promising to follow law on transparency about regulations.

Sylvia Burwell, President Obama’s nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told Congress that she’s “uncomfortable” with the idea of promising to publish the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda by the legally-deadline.

“Because I don’t know the facts behind what happened, that’s why I’m uncomfortable making a commitment, because I don’t know the facts behind the issue,” Burwell told Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, today during a Senate hearing.

Obama did not release a regulatory agenda in 2012 until December — “after the election, incidentally,” Portman observed — despite a law and a Bill Clinton executive order requiring that the White House release an agenda in the spring and fall of each year.

Portman wrote two letters about the issue to Obama last year, but never received a response.

They’re transparent, all right. You can see right through them.

TRANSPARENCY: Air Force Erases Drone Data.

TRANSPARENCY: Obama: ‘Clear out the press so we can take questions.’

TRANSPARENCY: McCain claims ‘massive cover-up’ on Benghazi.

TRANSPARENCY: EPA inspector general probing agency head’s use of private email account. “Flying somewhat below the media radar this week is the news that the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general is looking into whether agency head Lisa Jackson used a private email account with the alias “Richard Windsor” for official business, thus circumventing federal transparency laws for official communications, including the Freedom of Information Act. . . . The EPA has acknowledged Jackson uses the Windsor account but downplayed its significance, arguing extra accounts are necessary to deal with the sheer volume of emails they receive.”

Yeah, but if there’s nothing to hide, why the fake name?

TRANSPARENCY: EPA inspector general audits agency’s use of secret email accounts. “The use of these [hidden] accounts could seriously impair records collection, preservation, and access, therefore compromising transparency and oversight.” I’m pretty sure that’s the point. . . .

TRANSPARENCY: Big Mo for putting C-SPAN cameras on ‘fiscal cliff’ talks. Plus, why doesn’t David Gregory want voters to know what’s going on?