Nearly a decade ago Obama was campaigning on a platform of, amongst other things, transparency. After 9/11 the Bush administration went full Orwell (you never go full Orwell) and people were demanding change. Obama promised to deliver that change. But history repeated itself as it so often does. Like every other politician before him, Obama failed to deliver on most of the promises he made. He not only failed to deliver on his promises but he actually expanding what Bush was doing.
Decades will likely pass before we learn the full extent of the current administration’s expansions to the surveillance state. However, bits and pieces are already leaking out. A recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request produced a wealth of information on how the current administration has been working to undermine FOIA requests:
The Obama administration has long called itself the most transparent administration in history. But newly released Department of Justice (DOJ) documents show that the White House has actually worked aggressively behind the scenes to scuttle congressional reforms designed to give the public better access to information possessed by the federal government.
The documents were obtained by the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports journalism in the public interest, which in turn shared them exclusively with VICE News. They were obtained using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — the same law Congress was attempting to reform. The group sued the DOJ last December after its FOIA requests went unanswered for more than a year.
The documents confirm longstanding suspicions about the administration’s meddling, and lay bare for the first time how it worked to undermine FOIA reform bills that received overwhelming bipartisan support and were unanimously passed by both the House and Senate in 2014 — yet were never put up for a final vote.
It’s a lengthy article detailing several different ploys made by Obama’s administration in its quest to establish the most opaque government in history.
While the FOIA has revealed a great deal of the State’s dirty laundry it has always been a limited tool. When it was written a number of exemptions were included. Basically, at the judgement of the State, FOIA requests can be denied under several justifications. A FOIA request only reveals what the State is willing to reveal. However, the higher ups in the State have recognized that even with the number of exemptions put in place a lot of embarrassing information is still becoming public. That being the case, it’s not surprising to see the current administration working to add further restrictions on top of a bill that already includes numerous restrictions.
There is a lesson to be learned here. No matter what promises a politician makes up front they will almost invariably go unfulfilled if they win an election. Power seems terrible until you have it. Before becoming president I’m better Obama was being sincere in many of his promises. But when he gained the power he likely realized how good it felt. This is also why reforming the system through the voting process is doomed to fail. Even the most honest individuals can be corrupted with enough power.