by: Matt Renner, t r u t h o u t | Report
President Obama promised to usher in a new era of government transparency when he was sworn into office nine months ago.
On January 21, Obama signed an executive order instructing all federal agencies and departments to “adopt a presumption in favor” of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and promised to make the federal government more transparent.
“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,” Obama’s order said. “In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.”
But since that time, the Obama administration has sought to conceal information in several high-profile court cases, in an effort that civil libertarians say amounts to covering up crimes committed by the Bush administration.
Last week, in a federal courthouse in New York, Obama’s Justice Department attorneys again argued in favor of secrecy. The case involved 23 lawyers representing detainees at GuantÃ¡namo Bay who alleged in court papers that they were targets of the Bush administration’s so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program(TSP), an initiative operated by the National Security Agency (NSA) that Obama called “unlawful and unconstitutional” during his presidential campaign in 2007.
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