WH: Administration ‘Prided Itself’ on Transparency, Has Record FOIA Censorship

By Eric Scheiner | September 12, 2016 | 4:38pm EDT

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest says the Obama Administration “has prided itself and made transparency in government a genuine priority,” as the Associated Press reports 77% of Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests are censored or completely denied.

“This administration has prided itself and made transparency in government a genuine priority and he (President Obama) believes the American people were well served by that, he believes that our government is more effective because of the way that he has made that principal a genuine priority in this administration,” Earnest said during a White House press conference on Monday.

In March of 2016 an Associated Press analysis of government data concluded, “the Obama administration set a record for the number of times its federal employees told disappointed citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn't find a single page requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).”

“Overall, the Obama administration censored materials it turned over or fully denied access to them in a record 596,095 cases, or 77 percent of all requests. That includes 250,024 times when the government said it couldn't find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the government determined the request to be unreasonable or improper,” the Associated Press report concluded.

President Obama signed the FOIA Improvement Act in June of 2016 to improve the release of government records.

“I am very proud of all the work we've done to try to make government more open and responsive, but I know that people haven't always been satisfied with the speed with which they're getting responses and requests,” President Obama said.

Still, court cases against the administration continue to be filed for FOIA compliance. As recent as last week the organization Judicial Watch filed suit in district court to compel FOIA compliance from the State Department for a request dating back to June.

“As of the date of this Complaint, Defendant has failed to: produce the requested records or demonstrate that the requested records are lawfully exempt from production; notify Plaintiff of the scope of any responsive records Defendant intends to produce or withhold and the reasons for any withholdings; or inform Plaintiff that it may appeal any adequately specific, adverse determination,” the court filing states.

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