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Subject: "The most transparent administration in history?" rss

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fightcitymayor
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https://www.yahoo.com/news/obamas-final-us-spent-36-million-...

Not so much.

Quote:
Obama's final year: US spent $36 million in records lawsuits

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration in its final year in office spent a record $36.2 million on legal costs defending its refusal to turn over federal records under the Freedom of Information Act, according to an Associated Press analysis of new U.S. data that also showed poor performance in other categories measuring transparency in government.

For a second consecutive year, the Obama administration set a record for times federal employees told citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn't find a single page of files that were requested.

And it set records for outright denial of access to files, refusing to quickly consider requests described as especially newsworthy, and forcing people to pay for records who had asked the government to waive search and copy fees.

The government acknowledged when challenged that it had been wrong to initially refuse to turn over all or parts of records in more than one-third of such cases, the highest rate in at least six years.

In courtrooms, the number of lawsuits filed by news organizations under the Freedom of Information Act surged during the past four years, led by the New York Times, Center for Public Integrity and The Associated Press, according to a litigation study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The AP on Monday settled its 2015 lawsuit against the State Department for files about Hillary Clinton's time as secretary of state, at AP's request, and received $150,546 from the department to cover part of its legal fees.

The AP has pending lawsuits against the FBI for records about its decision to impersonate an AP journalist during a criminal investigation and about who helped the FBI hack into a mass shooting suspect's iPhone and how much the government paid to do it.

Of the $36.2 million in legal costs fighting such lawsuits last year, the Justice Department accounted for $12 million, the Homeland Security Department for $6.3 million and the Pentagon for $4.8 million. The three departments accounted for more than half the government's total records requests last year.

The figures reflect the final struggles of the Obama administration during the 2016 election to meet President Barack Obama's pledge that it was "the most transparent administration in history," despite wide recognition of serious problems coping with requests under the information law. It received a record 788,769 requests for files last year and spent a record $478 million answering them and employed 4,263 full-time FOIA employees across more than 100 federal departments and agencies. That was higher by 142 such employees the previous year.

A spokesman for former President Obama did not immediately respond to an email request for comment late Monday. The White House under Obama routinely defended its efforts under the information law in recent years and said federal employees worked diligently on such requests for records.

It remains unclear how President Donald Trump's administration will perform under the Freedom of Information Act or other measures of government transparency. Trump has not spoken extensively about transparency. In his private business and his presidential campaign, Trump required employees and advisers to sign non-disclosure agreements that barred them from discussing their work. His administration has barred some mainstream news organizations from campaign rallies and one White House press briefing. And Trump broke with tradition by refusing to disclose his tax returns.

Trump's secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is traveling to Asia this week on a small plane without a contingent of journalists or a designated pool reporter who would send reports to the broader diplomatic press corps, departing from 50 years of practice.

Overall, in the final year of Obama's administration, people who asked for records last year under the law received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, about the same as the previous year. In the first full year after Obama's election, that figure was only 65 percent of cases. The government released the new figures in the days ahead of Sunshine Week, which ends Sunday, when news organizations promote open government and freedom of information.

Under the records law, citizens and foreigners can compel the U.S. government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas.
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fightcitymayor
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This is a good example of RSP's hypocrisy:
People complain about too many ad hominem attacks, or RSP buddyism, or low-content posting, but given an actual factual news story that either the political Left or Right could dive right into, people are too busy pining for the good ol' days, or gossiping about which current/former RSP members should be banned/not banned.

Three+ hours and not so much as a response or a thumb to this thread about an actual, factual current news matter.

Some of you need to get your cocks out of your hands and practice what you preach.
Or, hey, go back to circlejerking with trolls about in-crowds and out-crowds for the eight millionth time.

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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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fightcitymayor wrote:
Three+ hours and not so much as a response or a thumb to this thread about an actual, factual current news matter.
Maybe you are more widely plonked than you thought.
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Daniel Kearns
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fightcitymayor wrote:

Some of you need to get your cocks out of your hands and practice what you preach.


*Quickly sits up straight, zipping pants*

What? What now? Oh yes, I am mad as high holy hell about whatever it is you posted! Fuck, I'm angry now.

I dismiss your claims and change the subject with a false equivalency.
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Born To Lose, Live To Win
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I just checked my CIA drone thread and see nary a thumb or comment from you on it. For the past two hours, while you sat flipping between your clock app and the thumb count of this thread, you have let Trump get away with literal murder.
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J.D. Hall
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Well, I'll comment on it:

Governments at every level give little more than lip-service to FOIA laws they enact, and spend countless hours trying to limit access as much as possible. That Obama would do this is unsurprising -- he was an attorney, after all, and committed to the idea among almost all lawyers that what they work on is none of the public's damn business.

On the other hand, FOIA requests are not all the same. Asking for information on bridge construction costs is not the same as asking for information on means and methods used by intelligence agencies to gather information. Yet they can be lumped in with the rest as part of these studies. The devil is in the details.

But frankly, when a politician promises transparency, my eyes go a-spinning like the rear wheels on a drag racer.

But yes, Mr. Mayor, there is a hypocrisy issue among RSP posters.
 
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Scott Russell
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I think that it can be argued that Trump is pretty transparent with no filter on his Twitter account. People generally don't like what they see, so maybe it's a "careful what you ask for" situation?
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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And yet, I'd rather have Obama back than Trump. Trump was just the normal levels of liarish, and hypocritical. Hillary took it to 11. Trump's dial starts at 10 and goes up from there.

I don't give him a pass, of course. I'd just rather have the empty promises and hollow legacy back than the bull in the china shop. It's my china in there, damn it.
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R. Frazier
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I agree with your premise that this was actually not a very transparent administration at all. Obama was not that interested in taking questions directly from the press and was extremely aggressive towards whistleblowers to the extent that he media was pretty critical of him for it.

Obama was a disappointment in a lot of ways, and this was one of them.
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Did they do any analysis of whether there was an uptick in certain types of requests? I think the most damning thing was the fact that they admitted a third of the requests should never have been denied in the first place.
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rylfrazier wrote:
I agree with your premise that this was actually not a very transparent administration at all. Obama was not that interested in taking questions directly from the press and was extremely aggressive towards whistleblowers to the extent that he media was pretty critical of him for it.

Obama was a disappointment in a lot of ways, and this was one of them.


When you have a secret kill list and you mean it like literally, yep, I'm pretty sure we can call him not a very transparent President.

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qzhdad wrote:
I think that it can be argued that Trump is pretty transparent with no filter on his Twitter account. People generally don't like what they see, so maybe it's a "careful what you ask for" situation?


a known liar frequently lying in public isn't the same as transparency, which generally means, you know, the truth
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Dickie Crickets
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fightcitymayor wrote:

Three+ hours and not so much as a response or a thumb to this thread about an actual, factual current news matter.

Some of you need to get your cocks out of your hands and practice what you preach.


Okay, cowboy. You can mock my politics, my hypocrisy, and even my dubious hygiene. But do NOT tell me how or when to masturbate.

That's MY time. MINE.
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Jim Rice
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Wait, was I actually suppose to take my hand off my cock to reply? I can type one handed, if I stop jiggling my nuts....
 
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Junior McSpiffy
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fightcitymayor wrote:
This is a good example of RSP's hypocrisy:
People complain about too many ad hominem attacks, or RSP buddyism, or low-content posting, but given an actual factual news story that either the political Left or Right could dive right into, people are too busy pining for the good ol' days, or gossiping about which current/former RSP members should be banned/not banned.

Three+ hours and not so much as a response or a thumb to this thread about an actual, factual current news matter.

Some of you need to get your cocks out of your hands and practice what you preach.
Or, hey, go back to circlejerking with trolls about in-crowds and out-crowds for the eight millionth time.



Well, anyone on the right who would really sink their teeth into this has been sent to the showers. And anyone on the left who would want to discuss this... well... nobody on the left wants to discuss this. And any centrist around who isn't heavily vested in one side or the other reads it and says "Yep. Made promises and didn't live up to them. We pretty much knew that."

I don't know if it is hypocrisy so much as this not being all that controversial.
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R. Frazier
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I don't know if there's that much to talk about. It's bad that Obama was much less transparent than he should have been and it illustrates an increasingly aloof and "imperial" approach to the presidency that seems to occur no matter who's in charge.

Usually lively discussion happens when people are arguing - I don't see anyone stepping up to defend Obama on this issue, and I don't know enough to be more specifically critical of him, so what more is there to say?
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Eric "Shippy McShipperson" Mowrer
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rylfrazier wrote:
I don't know if there's that much to talk about. It's bad that Obama was much less transparent than he should have been and it illustrates an increasingly aloof and "imperial" approach to the presidency that seems to occur no matter who's in charge.

Usually lively discussion happens when people are arguing - I don't see anyone stepping up to defend Obama on this issue, and I don't know enough to be more specifically critical of him, so what more is there to say?


The problem is this. Obama was touted as someone who will bring hope and change. This was his platform. He was gonna drain the swamp, so to speak. Only he changed nothing and in some ways things got worse. But nobody will remember that when Democrat X steps up to the plate and proclaims "Yeah, but I'm really REALLY for realz going to drain that swamp! Like for actual this time!"

And now we have Trump, who said the same thing and isn't even remotely living up to it. Nay, he's actively filling it up.

Will anybody remember this the next time some politician comes along and tells them sweet lies about how they're going to fix everything and at no cost to anyone but the bad guys?
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R. Frazier
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All we can do is demand better and vote accordingly.

Our politicians are never going to be ideal, but other than running for office individually ourselves generally we just have to pick the best options we can and move forward.
 
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Burke Martin
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Lots of people hated Obama and now even more people hate Trump not sure what the point of this is... If you want to actually talk about who created a state of modern secrecy about the presidency then you need to talk about Dick Cheney post 9/11.
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R. Frazier
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Well and Cheney's entire political career essentially boils down to "I will repudiate what they did to my mentor and icon Richard "Tricky Dick" Nixon."
 
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rylfrazier wrote:
All we can do is demand better and vote accordingly.


Did you see the top 2 options we had last November?
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ejmowrer wrote:
And yet, I'd rather have Obama back than Trump.


Not me. I can actually find 22LR ammo now.
 
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R. Frazier
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quozl wrote:
rylfrazier wrote:
All we can do is demand better and vote accordingly.


Did you see the top 2 options we had last November?


Well last year we definitely paid for not "draining the swamp" within the demo party thus allowing them to essentially anoint an un-electable charisma vacuum with literally the most baggage of any political figure on the left in American politics.
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Obama was certainly a disappointment in not rolling back security theater and the pervasive surveillance instituted after 9/11.

Trump doesn't seem like an improvement. They're so busy pulling crap out of their asses, could we actually see real data if it appeared? The signal/noise ratio is near zero.

It's difficult to judge FOIA requests. The media is a lot more factionalized. More media makes for more FOIA requests. More tin-foil-hat media makes for more unsuccessful FOIA requests. Okay, we still don't have pictures of the Roswell aliens; maybe they don't exist?

Data mining and traffic analysis are real Intelligence tools that have become a lot more powerful with more powerful computers and AIs. Still, a statement could be made, "We have to be much more careful about releasing information because every jigsaw puzzle piece we show gets copied to all the bad actors in the world, and the possibility of them getting enough pieces of the picture to do damage is much greater now." Shrug: Maybe such a statement was made and everyone slept through it: this kind of stuff dates from WWII; it's just a lot more powerful now.
 
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ejmowrer wrote:
The problem is this. Obama was touted as someone who will bring hope and change. This was his platform. He was gonna drain the swamp, so to speak. ...

Problem is, Congress made the swamp and only they can drain it.

And they're only going to do that if they're threatened to within an inch of their (political) lives.

It's going to take a Congress with the will and ability to:
• override Presidential vetoes
• impeach and convict when necessary
• and do it quickly and efficiently, not as political theater.
 
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