Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) just issued what is probably its unkindest press release so far about the Obama administration, comparing its Justice Department to the Bush administration when it comes to transparency:
Despite policy directives from President Barack Obama and Attorney General Holder mandating a presumption of openness in administering the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), DOJ continues to operate – as it did during the Bush administration — under a presumption of secrecy, deliberately withholding information about what DOJ is up to and why. Click here to read the full letter.
“Rather than being part of the solution, DOJ is part of the problem,” said Ms. Weismann. “Whether it's been CREW's search for the truth behind the missing emails of torture memos author John Yoo or finding out what happened in the PMA scandal, DOJ repeatedly has refused to respond to FOIA requests, denying the public important information.”
DOJ has stonewalled in response to nearly all of CREW's FOIA requests, necessitating costly and time consuming litigation given that the courts offer the only possibility of access to important government records. DOJ's practice runs counter to the Obama administration's pledge of openness, and Attorney General Holder's own directive to stop the deplorable secrecy of the previous administration.
The group has a Democratic lean, but it hasn't shied away from criticizing Democrats in Congress. Bear in mind that part of their FOIA request is for notes from the FBI's interview with Cheney in the Valerie Plame case. But also bear in mind that the Obama administration makes a big show of transparency, but in practice games the numbers when it comes to the amount of information released under FOIA and conceals many of its meetings with lobbyists.