Share on Google Plus Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn Share on PInterest Share on Fark! Share on Reddit Share on StumbleUpon Tell A Friend 1 (1 Shares)  
Printer Friendly Page Save As Favorite View Favorites View Stats   9 comments

OpEdNews Op Eds

Obama's Era of Openness Is Closed

By (about the author)     Permalink       (Page 1 of 3 pages)
Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; (more...) ; , Add Tags  (less...) Add to My Group(s)

Must Read 1   News 1   Valuable 1  
View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to None 6/9/09

Become a Fan
  (54 fans)
- Advertisement -
June 9, 2009

An "era" used to last, but not so much anymore. We've already heard GOP Chairman Michael Steele proclaim that "the era of apologizing for Republican mistakes" was over (when many of us didn't know it had begun), and now it appears that Barack Obama's era of openness has closed, too.

That era began on the new President's first working day in office when he rescinded some of George W. Bush's imperial edicts granting himself and his family--along with other former presidents and vice presidents--broad control over historical records.

On Jan. 21, President Obama spoke eloquently about "a new era of open government,"- declaring that "a democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency."

Regarding whether to release documents under the Freedom of Information Act, he added, "In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears."

However, the Obama administration is now moving aggressively to prevent federal courts from ordering the release of photographic and other evidence of crimes and misconduct committed by the CIA and U.S. military forces during George W. Bush's "war on terror."

On Monday, Obama's lawyers submitted an affidavit signed by CIA Director Leon Panetta claiming that a federal judge must not release documents relating to the destruction of 92 CIA videotapes regarding interrogations of terrorism suspects.

To do so, Panetta said, could "result in exceptionally grave danger to the national security by informing our enemies of what we know about them, and when, and in some instances, how we obtained the intelligence we possessed."

- Advertisement -

Panetta insisted that the continued secrecy regarding the documents about the destroyed videotapes was "in no way driven by a desire to prevent embarrassment for the U.S. government or the CIA, or to suppress evidence of any unlawful conduct." Rather, he cited concerns about revealing "sources and methods" and other potential harm to U.S. national security.

The ACLU has sought the documents in an attempt to ascertain who in the Bush administration was responsible for torturing detainees and for destroying the videotapes, which detailed the treatment of two terrorism suspects.

The Obama administration's objection to the document release follows Obama's personal decision in May to withhold photographs showing abuse of detainees at U.S. military prisons. Obama said releasing the photos could enflame tensions in the Middle East and endanger American soldiers. He also has reaffirmed the government's right to kill court cases by asserting a "state secrets privilege."

What Obama apparently has realized is that a commitment to openness requires courage and a readiness to take some political hits. Republicans--and parts of the U.S. news media--attacked Obama in April for releasing the Bush administration's four legal memos justifying torture of detainees.

Stung by that criticism--and accusations from former Vice President Dick Cheney that the disclosures had endangered national security--Obama began his retreat on openness.

- Advertisement -

Disclosed Scandals

Yet, virtually every major disclosure of serious U.S. government wrongdoing has entailed some risk of damaging the national image or increasing risks faced by U.S. soldiers deployed around the globe.

For instance, the disclosure of the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War--including photos of women and children slaughtered in a drainage ditch--surely reflected negatively on the U.S. military. So, too, did the leaking of photos showing abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib.

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at

Share on Google Plus Submit to Twitter Add this Page to Facebook! Share on LinkedIn Pin It! Add this Page to Fark! Submit to Reddit Submit to Stumble Upon

Go To Commenting

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.

Writers Guidelines

Contact Author Contact Editor View Authors' Articles
- Advertisement -
Google Content Matches:

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The CIA/Likud Sinking of Jimmy Carter

What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?

Ron Paul's Appalling World View

Ronald Reagan: Worst President Ever?

A Perjurer on the US Supreme Court

The Disappearance of Keith Olbermann


The time limit for entering new comments on this article has expired.

This limit can be removed. Our paid membership program is designed to give you many benefits, such as removing this time limit. To learn more, please click here.

Comments: Expand   Shrink   Hide  
9 people are discussing this page, with 9 comments
To view all comments:
Expand Comments
(Or you can set your preferences to show all comments, always)

We can only evaluate what he does because what he ... by liecatcher on Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 12:11:44 AM
Robert Parry, among other things, documented evide... by Maxwell on Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 8:38:23 AM
It is little wonder that there is an Obama cover u... by David Palmer on Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 8:44:02 AM
Frankly, it is a Crime to conceal evidence of know... by boomerang on Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 9:28:45 AM
for.  But it was sort of foolish on our parts... by Janiece Senn on Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 9:40:23 AM
It is instructive you gave Obama's openness po... by Jason Paz on Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 10:03:08 AM
What's PUMA for "I told you so"?If o... by Perry Logan on Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 1:32:00 PM
All the things you sight as proof of a difference ... by arlen custer on Thursday, Jun 11, 2009 at 7:46:21 AM
   Clinton can now say "I told... by Richard Lee on Wednesday, Jun 10, 2009 at 9:38:48 PM


Tell a Friend: Tell A Friend

Copyright © 2002-2015, OpEdNews

Powered by Populum