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Category Archive: Transparency

Aug 15 2013

Obama’s Empty Surveillance Promises, Take 2

I wrote the other day that the promises that President Obama made last week about greater transparency were mostly hollow, especially the appointment of a commission to study the problem. Such commission are a political black hole. But it turns out that his “independent” commission won’t be independent at all:

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Aug 14 2013

Balko Proposes a Whistleblower Prize

Longtime friend of Dispatches Radley Balko has a great idea for a whistleblower prize, or a series of them, that would provide some incentive for whistleblowers to come forward and reveal wrongdoing. It would require a lot of funding, but I think it’s a great idea.

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Jul 30 2013

Obama Promise Disappears Down the Memory Hole

The dedicated folks at the Sunlight Foundation have discovered something very interesting. The Obama administration’s Change.gov website, which was set up during the 2008 transition and still available as of early last month, has now disappeared from the web. They suggest one possible reason why:

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May 20 2013

A New Way to Leak

With the Obama administration’s furious war against whistleblowers who reveal abuses and illegality by the government, especially the executive branch, the New Yorker is rolling out a new way for sources to turn over incriminating evidence that the public should know about. It was coded by the last Aaron Swartz, the open-source crusader who committed …

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May 17 2013

Is the Seizure of AP Phone Records a Scandal?

There’s an interesting debate going on at the Volokh Conspiracy over whether the story about the DOJ seizing phone records of innumerable AP reporters and editors is a real story or not. Orin Kerr, who is a libertarian-leaning law professor and therefore generally likely to oppose unnecessary searches and seizures, declares it a non-story at …

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May 02 2013

Biden Wants Torture Report Released

The Senate Intelligence Committee put out a massive and comprehensive report on the use of torture by the government, but no one outside the government has ever seen it because the CIA is afraid it will reveal too much. Vice President Joe Biden says he thinks it should be released:

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Mar 05 2013

The Danger of the Daniel Manning Prosecution

Yochai Benkler, a Harvard law professor and one of the expert witnesses in the Bradley Manning case, has a long and very compelling article in the New Republic about the dangers of that prosecution and how it is being pursued primarily as a deterrent to future whistleblowers. I found this passage particularly prescient:

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Feb 11 2013

Who Leaked the Drone Memo?

I definitely would like to know who leaked the memo that has an abbreviated version of the Obama administration’s legal justification for the drone strike program, a memo so badly written and reasoned that you can see now why the DOJ has refused to make it public. Jack Shafer has some ideas:

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Jan 07 2013

Obama Allowed to Keep Drone Rationale Secret

The Obama administration’s efforts to keep every tiny detail of its actions in the war on terror secret continues to succeed in court and has now been extended even further. A federal judge has ruled that the administration doesn’t even have to reveal the legal basis for the drone strikes it uses so often. You …

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Jul 31 2012

The Most Transparent Administration in History Strikes Again

Yet another example of the Obama administration — you know, the promised “most transparent administration in history” — using legal procedures to fight against actual transparency in court. A court has allowed them to continue to pretend that documents that were already made public are still so secret that they are not subject to the …

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Jun 22 2012

Bad Arguments for Government Secrecy

Spencer Ackerman has a list of the five worst arguments ever offered by the government to justify keeping its most egregious misdeeds secret. It includes last week’s claim by the NSA that it would violate the privacy of those whose privacy they violated if they were to reveal how many people’s privacy was violated. It …

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Jun 21 2012

The Obama Administration’s Weird Definition of Privacy

My former colleague Spencer Ackerman got his hands on a deeply ironic letter written by the NSA to two senators, in which the agency claims that they can’t tell them how many people have been targeted for surveillance because that would violate the privacy of those who were targeted. I wish I was kidding.

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Jun 19 2012

Obama’s False Promise of Transparency

Remember when President Obama promised, on his very first day in office, to have the most transparent administration in history? The reality has been quite the contrary and here’s yet another example. In response to a FOIA request for Bush-era legal document on the president’s authority to make recess appointments, the DOJ redacted well over …

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Jun 16 2012

Warren Mayor Lies About FOIA Concerns

In my experience filing many Freedom of Information Act requests, some government agencies are much better than others. Some do their best to comply with the law and provide the information requested; others do everything they can to delay and deny such requests. The mayor of Warren, Jim Fouts, is a great example of the …

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Jun 11 2012

Feynman’s FBI File Released

MuckRock, a website dedicated to using Freedom of Information Act requests to bring greater transparency to government actions, has received the FBI files on Richard Feynman. What it shows is downright creepy, like the fact that many of his close friends were FBI informants who were spying on him and feeding information to the government, …

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