Thursday, July 22, 2010

How's that transparency working out for you?

Well, the miserable hack that runs the Justice Department has sufficiently politicized his realm and ObamaCare will usher in the inevitable politicization of the Department of Health and Human Services along with Medicare and Medicaid, so who's next on the docket?

For at least a year, the Homeland Security Department detoured requests for federal records to senior political advisers for highly unusual scrutiny, probing for information about the requesters and delaying disclosures deemed too politically sensitive, according to nearly 1,000 pages of internal e-mails obtained by The Associated Press.

The department abandoned the practice after AP investigated. Inspectors from the department's Office of Inspector General quietly conducted interviews last week to determine whether political advisers acted improperly.

The Freedom of Information Act, the main tool forcing the government to be more open, is designed to be insulated from political considerations. Anyone who seeks information through the law is supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose confidential decision-making in certain areas.

But in July 2009, Homeland Security introduced a directive requiring a wide range of information to be vetted by political appointees for "awareness purposes," no matter who requested it.

Career employees were ordered to provide Secretary Janet Napolitano's political staff with information about the people who asked for records — such as where they lived, whether they were private citizens or reporters — and about the organizations where they worked.

If a member of Congress sought such documents, employees were told to specify Democrat or Republican.

This, despite President Barack Obama's statement that federal workers should "act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation" under FOIA, and Attorney General Eric Holder's assertion: "Unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles have no place in the new era of open government."

Excellent. Even when it's not his department, the miserable hack is somehow involved, even if peripherally.

Under the FOIA, people can request copies of government records without specifying why they want them nor are they required to provide any personal information about themselves other than their name and a suitable mailing address so those copies can be sent to them.

Anything related to an Obama regime policy priority, however, was subject to a review as was any information requested by lawmakers (Republicans, perhaps?), journalists, and activist and watchdog groups.

And irony of ironies, the internal DHS email request made by the AP for their investigation was submitted for review by the political advisers.

What grade would you give the regime for openness and transparency?

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