(NaturalNews) During his first campaign, then Sen. Barack Obama promised the most open, transparent administration in history.
"My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government," he said in a memo to the heads of his Executive Branch agencies.
That promise may have sounded a lot like one made several years earlier by Bill Clinton, who once famously pledged to run "the most ethical administration in the history of the republic," but who went on to become only the second president in U.S. history to be impeached by the House, in his case for giving perjured testimony to a federal grand jury over his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
It's becoming more clear those were just words
The reason why Obama's promise is similarly hypocritical is because it is as laughable as was Clinton's. Obama's administration, you see, has spent nearly all of its first term hiding, obfuscating and covering up various scandals, missteps and policy failures.
Obama's initial pledge mirrored the overall tone of his first campaign - it was strong, hopeful and optimistic. But "four years later," writes Washington Post op-ed columnist Dana Milbank, "it is becoming more and more clear that they were just words."
He's not the only one to notice. Lots of folks - and not just his political nemeses - feel that Obama's lofty promise of transparency has long since vanished, replaced by a culture of opaqueness that may not be unprecedented for modern presidencies, but which is in the running for being one of the worst.
"It's been a really tough slog," Anne Weismann of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington told a group of advocates of open government assembled in a congressional hearing room. "The lack of effective leadership in the White House, in the executive branch, has really made it difficult to have more significant progress."
"They've been reluctant to take positions and translate that into real action," added Hudson Hollister of the Data Transparency Coalition.
Josh Gerstein of Politico added: "In the beginning of 2010, [Obama] said he made a significant mistake by abandoning some of his pledges related to transparency, and that going forward they would do things differently. Seems to me we are forward and it seems to me we're not doing things any differently."
It's time to place blame
The group's moderator, Daniel Schuman of the Sunlight Foundation, said participants were "placing a lot of the blame on the administration. Or blame isn't the right word - maybe responsibility."
Milbank says placing blame is just fine:
The Obama administration's high level of opacity...is troubling precisely because the president was so clear about his determination to do things differently. As recently as early last year, some open-government advocates were still hopeful, presenting Obama with an anti-secrecy award at the White House. But even then, there were signs of trouble: The award presentation wasn't on his schedule and was closed to reporters
As we've documented here at Natural News, the Obama White House has an abysmal record of "openness." Here are just a couple of the most heinous examples:
Fast and Furious -- The American people still have not been told all of the details surrounding the horrendously botched operation that left at least one U.S. federal border agent dead. In fact, a report by the Justice Department's own inspector general has said the White House "made it impossible" to even pursue leads in the scandal.
Benghazi -- In the days and weeks following the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, reports said that he was killed by terrorist insurgents who carefully plotted and planned the attack, not by demonstrators who gathered for an ad hoc protest against the United States. Some lawmakers have since accused the administration of ignoring warning signs that an attack was building and then covering up the fact that the president and his team botched requests by Stevens to beef up security.
When government no longer feels accountable to the public, the public gets unaccountable government.