A secret meeting…on openness. Only the Obama administration could come up with such brazen cognitive dissonance. Then again, this is the administration that’s chasing its own tail over the CLASS Act.
Justice Department documents made public Tuesday by Judicial Watch exposed an “accomplishment” of President Obama that his many admirers and enablers in the liberal mainstream media likely don’t want to talk about: a secret meeting on transparency in government. It happened on Dec. 7, 2009, and was convened by the Office of Information Policy in the Justice Department headed by Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder. The meeting’s purpose was to train Freedom of Information Act officers from federal agencies how to respond to FOIA requests, including tips on resolving disputes over what government documents can be made public.
Judicial Watch obtained a series of pre-conference emails in which Justice Department officials sought approval from White House media officials for closing the meeting to reporters. That the December meeting was closed was no isolated incident. In one of the emails, Melanie Pustay, OIP’s director, said she has “always held parallel meetings, one for agency ‘ees [i.e. government employees] and then one that is open.” We can only wonder what Pustay tells government FOIA officers that she doesn’t want journalists to hear.
This is of a piece with the Obama administration’s footdragging on FOIA requests. And his many czars. The administration led by the president who promised the most open and transparent government in American history does all it can to avoid complying with FOIAs that we and others file against them, for information to which the American people have a right to access. The whole point of the czars, especially the more radical ones given the sketchier portfolios (cough Van Jones cough), was to empower individuals who stood no chance of gaining Congressional approval. They are an end run around the constitutional advise and consent process, which is supposed to be open. And it’s all of a piece with the way the National Labor Relations Board is treating subpoenas from Rep. Darrel Issa’s committee.