President Obama accepted a transparency award from open-government advocates this week – during an unpublicized, closed-door meeting.
It was a strange conclusion to a two-week saga, in which the White House announced the award before canceling the ceremony at the last moment citing scheduling conflicts. The abrupt cancelation came as some questioned Obama's commitment to meet his campaign pledge on government openness.
"What I will not concede is that his record on the issue is anything but exemplary," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said amid mounting questions about the award.
The secrecy of the event reportedly puzzled some of those doling out the award to Obama. And other transparency advocates said the honor was premature at best.
"There is too much work left to be done to be handing out awards," Steven Aftergood, a transparency advocate who runs the Federation of American Scientists' Government Secrecy Project, previously told The Washington Examiner. "Secrecy continues to be a problem, particularly the use of state secrets privilege to halt litigation on controversial topics. Efforts to use the [Freedom of Information] Act are frustrated by delays, incomplete disclosure and a frequent lack of response."