Reprinted from The Guardian
The Obama administration has taken a lot of well-deserved criticism over the years for claiming to be the most transparent presidency ever while actually being remarkably opaque, but they've now reached a new low: newly released documents show they aggressively lobbied Congress to kill bipartisan transparency reform that was based on the administration's own policy.
In a move open government advocates are calling "ludicrous," the administration "strongly opposed" the passage of bipartisan Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reform behind closed doors in 2014. The bill was a modest and uncontroversial piece of legislation which attempted to modernize the law for the internet age and codify President Obama's 2009 memo directing federal agencies to adopt a "presumption of openness."
Worse, Vice's Jason Leopold is also reporting that the administration is conducting similar lobbying efforts around this year's attempt to reform FOIA in time for the law's 50th anniversary this summer.
FOIA is the nation's most important transparency law, but ask any journalist and they will tell you the FOIA process is irrevocably broken. There are countless horror stories of reporters getting back info on FOIA requests five or seven years after they asked for it -- and those are the lucky ones who get a response at all (agencies are supposed to respond within 20 days). Often, the only way to get any information out of federal agencies is to file a lawsuit -- an action that takes time, effort and a lot of money that journalists or news organizations don't often have.