AP: Team Obama — Oops, ‘U.S.’ Sets ‘New Record For Denying, Censoring Government Files’

Posted on Thu 03/19/2015 by

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TimGrahampicture-13-1409699701By Tim Graham ~

In “The Big Story” at AP on Wednesday afternoon, Ted Bridis announced the latest news from The Most Transparent Administration In History: “The Obama administration set a new record again for more often than ever censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.”

Strangely, the AP headline is “US sets new record for denying, censoring government files.” Bridis added:obama-clapping[1]_0

The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn’t find documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.

It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged.

Its backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000. It also cut by 375, or about 9 percent, the number of full-time employees across government paid to look for records. That was the fewest number of employees working on the issue in five years.

AP found the FOIA remains a popular request for journalists and citizens: “despite disappointments and failed promises by the White House to make meaningful improvements in the way it releases records, the law was more popular than ever. Citizens, journalists, businesses and others made a record 714,231 requests for information. The U.S. spent a record $434 million trying to keep up. It also spent about $28 million on lawyers’ fees to keep records secret.”

Despite the historic record of censorship, the Obama publicists shamelessly boasted they have a lot to brag about:

The White House touted its success under its own analysis. It routinely excludes from its assessment instances when it couldn’t find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the request was determined to be improper under the law, and said under this calculation it released all or parts of records in 91 percent of requests — still a record low since President Barack Obama took office using the White House’s own math.

“We actually do have a lot to brag about,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Obama’s people seem the most resistant to the kind of juicy stories that might actually make fluffy shows like Good Morning America. No revelations on Michelle Obama’s fashions allowed!

Under the president’s instructions, the U.S. should not withhold or censor government files merely because they might be embarrassing, but federal employees last year regularly misapplied the law. In emails that AP obtained from the National Archives and Records Administration about who pays for Michelle Obama’s expensive dresses, the agency blacked-out a sentence under part of the law intended to shield personal, private information, such as Social Security numbers, phone numbers or home addresses. But it failed to censor the same passage on a subsequent page.

The sentence: “We live in constant fear of upsetting the WH (White House).”

Tim Graham contributes at NewsBusters. He is Director of  Media Analysis at the Media Research Center and is the author of the book “Pattern Of Deception: The Media’s Role In The Clinton Presidency”.

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