Although Obama decided yesterday to block the public release of photos depicting prisoner abuse, he has promised to run the most transparent administration in history. The day after he took office, Obama issued a memorandum for executive branch departments and agencies.
He proclaimed: “The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. 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…All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.”
A senior Bush administration official points to the irony of Obama administration’s position -- using a FOIA technicality to block the public disclosure of information.
“So, because Amnesty International has filed a broad FOIA request for detainee related materials, the American people are unable to see memos that document the effectiveness of our detainee program. Wouldn’t the legal memos previously released also, presumably, have been subject to this FOIA? Why wasn’t their release blocked under the same provision?”
Now mind you Stephen Hayes starts off his post referring to the rejection letter. However he doesn't allow his readers to see the actual letter. Well a REAL journalist, Greg Sargent, actually posted the contents of the letter. Here is the pertinent passage.
As you are aware, a request for Mandatory Declassification Review is governed by Executive Order 12958, as amended, which was signed and executed by the President on March 25, 2003. Under section 3.5.(a)(3) of that Executive Order, a document is excluded from Mandatory Declassification Review if that document contains information that is the subject of pending litigation. This provision ensures that the Mandatory Declassification Review process is not used to disrupt simultaneous litigation proceedings that are already pending. In researching the information in question, we have discovered that it is currently the subject of pending FOIA litigation (Bloche v. Department of Defense, Amnesty International v. Central Intelligence Agency). Therefore, the requested document, which contains this information, is excluded from Mandatory Declassification Review.
What that means, obviously, is that President Bush actually the one who signed the Executive Order in 2003 that does not allow the CIA to declassify the reports that Dick Cheney is requesting. Basically, its all Bush's fault. Again. Seriously. But Hayes and his merry band of wingnuts would have you believe it was all President Obama's doing. Now I am not going to go too far into the thought that Dick Cheney probably already knew the rules and knew he wouldn't have a chance in hell of getting the reports which is why he started grandstanding in the first place, but thats a discussion for another day. I won't also point out that the OLC memos that are referred to in Hayes' post that President Obama were released IN RESPONSE TO a FOIA request. For now I say just marvel at how shitty of a journalist Stephen Hayes really is.