War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength
Censorship is Transparency
Many of you will have heard about how the White House recently celebrated National Freedom of Information Day by removing a federal regulation that subjects its Office of Administration to the Freedom of Information Act. While interesting, it turns out that was merely a sideshow to the real news; that fiscal 2014 marked a record year for government censorship of documents that are supposed to be available on request.
Specifically, data released Tuesday showed that the U.S. government responded to 647,142 requests, a 4% decrease over the previous year, and that the backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end surged by 55% to more than 200,00.
More from the AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration set a new record again for more often than ever censoring government files or outright denying access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.
The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn’t find documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy.
It also acknowledged in nearly 1 in 3 cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law — but only when it was challenged.
Can’t make this stuff up.
Its backlog of unanswered requests at year’s end grew remarkably by 55 percent to more than 200,000. It also cut by 375, or about 9 percent, the number of full-time employees across government paid to look for records. That was the fewest number of employees working on the issue in five years.
The government responded to 647,142 requests, a 4 percent decrease over the previous year. It more than ever censored materials it turned over or fully denied access to them, in 250,581 cases or 39 percent of all requests. Sometimes, the government censored only a few words or an employee’s phone number, but other times it completely marked out nearly every paragraph on pages.
The government’s responsiveness under the open records law is an important measure of its transparency. Under the law, citizens and foreigners can compel the government to turn over copies of federal records for zero or little cost. Anyone who seeks information through the law is generally supposed to get it unless disclosure would hurt national security, violate personal privacy or expose business secrets or confidential decision-making in certain areas. It cited such exceptions a record 554,969 times last year.
Well in the UK, we know that protecting powerful pedophiles is considered a matter of “national security,” so who knows what this term even means anymore.
Additionally, isn’t it cute that the U.S. government is so concerned with public officials’ personal privacy, yet shows no concern about the privacy of the citizenry?
“What we discovered reaffirmed what we have seen all too frequently in recent years,” Pruitt wrote in a column published this week. “The systems created to give citizens information about their government are badly broken and getting worse all the time.”
The AP earlier this month sued the State Department under the law to force the release of email correspondence and government documents from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. The government had failed to turn over the files under repeated requests, including one made five years ago and others pending since the summer of 2013.
Under the law, the U.S. is required to move urgent requests from journalists to the front of the line for a speedy answer if records will inform the public concerning an actual or alleged government activity. But the government now routinely denies such requests: Over six years, the number of requests granted speedy processing status fell from nearly half to fewer than 1 in 8.
The CIA, at the center of so many headlines, has denied every such request the last two years.
Least. Transparent. Ever.
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