Hillary Clinton’s email lapse underscores a larger problem with the Obama administration, supposedly “the most transparent administration in history.”
PRESIDENT Obama continues to boast that he runs “the most transparent administration in history” with a straight face. But the claim doesn’t even pass the giggle test.
His administration has an abysmal record of prosecuting more whistleblowers than any predecessor. His administration’s compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has gotten worse, rather than better, the longer he is in office. And he routinely sidesteps the seasoned White House press corps to sit for interviews with the likes of YouTube stars.
Add to the list of transgressions the new disclosure that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appears to have ignored federal guidelines by using only a personal email account. She also made no apparent effort to save her emails for posterity until just a few months ago, more than a year after she resigned, according to The New York Times.
Other administrations, including that of George W. Bush, had similar problems. But those administrations weren’t selling their boss as President Transparency. Obama’s former secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, also apparently shunned an official work email account.
Most Read Opinion Stories
- A rumored threat, a frantic text: ‘This is high school in America’ | My Take
- Seattle Mayor Durkan’s cautious approach to budget is wise | Editorial
- Tillerson held the brake on Trump’s worst instincts | Trudy Rubin / Syndicated columnist
- Donald Trump is an ‘abusive braggart’ unfit to lead our Armed Forces | Op-Ed
- Who will defend democracy? | Stein Ringen | Syndicated columnist
The law Clinton might have violated requires emails to be preserved in the National Archives. But her decision shows a callous disregard for public-records laws put in place to ensure citizens and journalists have access to the workings of their government.
Her boss, Obama, either didn’t know, which is unlikely, or didn’t seem to care.
Back in 2009, on his first day in office, Obama signed a memo that supposedly flipped the administration of FOIA to require agencies to show why records should not be released. Bush had required requesters to show why they should.
Six years into “the most transparent administration in history,” it’s now clear that Congress should put that standard into law and pass the Freedom of Information Act Improvement Act. It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
For evidence of why the law is needed, check the FOIA Project, an independent watchdog group that has compiled a database of lawsuits demanding access to federal records.
The Obama administration has been sued significantly more than the Bush administration, with the highest tally on record being 2014.
Obama should live up to his own marketing hype.