Eideard

US cites security more often to justify censorship of public records

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The Obama administration answered more requests from the public to see government records under the Freedom of Information Act last year — but more often than it ever has it cited legal exceptions to censor or withhold the material…It frequently cited the need to protect national security and internal deliberations.

The AP’s analysis showed the government released all or portions of the information that citizens, journalists, businesses and others sought at about the same rate as the previous three years. It turned over all or parts of the records in about 65 percent of all requests. It fully rejected more than one-third of requests, a slight increase over 2011…

People submitted more than 590,000 requests for information in fiscal 2012 – an increase of less than 1 percent over the previous year. Including leftover requests from previous years, the government responded to more requests than ever in 2012 – more than 603,000 – a 5 percent increase for the second consecutive year.

When the government withheld or censored records, it cited exceptions built into the law to avoid turning over materials more than 479,000 times, a roughly 22 percent increase over the previous year…

In a year of intense public interest over deadly U.S. drones, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, terror threats and more, the government cited national security to withhold information at least 5,223 times – a jump over 4,243 such cases in 2011 and 3,805 cases in Obama’s first year in office…

Other federal agencies that invoked the national security exception included the Pentagon, Director of National Intelligence, NASA, Office of Management and Budget, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Federal Communications Commission and the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, State, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs…

“FOIA is an imperfect law, and I don’t think that’s changed over the last four years since Obama took office,” said Alexander Abdo, an ACLU staff attorney for its national security project. “We’ve seen a meteoric rise in the number of claims to protect secret law, the government’s interpretations of laws or its understanding of its own authority. In some ways, the Obama administration is actually even more aggressive on secrecy than the Bush administration…”

Obama’s “increased transparency” continued to take longer to answer requests. At the State Department urgent requests that were fast-tracked because they concerned breaking news or a life at stake – averaged a two year wait.

Last year the CIA denied every such request.

National Security still works as the best phony excuse in the world as far as our government is concerned.

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Written by Ed Campbell

March 12, 2013 at 2:00 am

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