Obama’s False Promise of Transparency

Remember when President Obama promised, on his very first day in office, to have the most transparent administration in history? The reality has been quite the contrary and here’s yet another example. In response to a FOIA request for Bush-era legal document on the president’s authority to make recess appointments, the DOJ redacted well over 90% of the document. You can view the redacted document here.

This has absolutely nothing to do with national security or state secrets, it’s just an advisory opinion about when the president can and can’t make recess appointments to executive branch positions. Yet the document they released is absolutely meaningless. Marcy Wheeler points out that it’s more redacted than legal opinions that do involve classified information:

It is almost entirely redacted. Just 11 lines out of three pages are left unredacted–and one of those reads, “Please let us know if we may be of further assistance.”

Just for shits and giggles, I compared that memo to another Jack Goldsmith memo, one that relates to actual national security issues: Goldsmith’s May 6, 2004 memo finding the revamped illegal wiretap program legal. That’s a 108 page memo, of which 46 pages are entirely redacted or redacted to the same degree as any one of the three pages in this recess appointment one. There are a slew more redactions, many of them obviously improper.

The last line, “Please let me know if we can be of further assistance. (U)” appears unredacted there, too.

Nevertheless, the Administration redacted far more of the earlier Goldsmith memo–the recess appointment one–than the one dealing with one of our most sensitive counterterrorism programs.

The “most transparent administration ever” line is getting to be as bad a joke as Scalia’s “new professionalism” claim.

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