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#1514941 --- 05/23/18 10:28 AM Transparency in Government
luckyduck Offline
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Registered: 06/15/11
Posts: 420
Loc: NY
AP March 14, 2017, 7:51 AM
Obama admin spent $36M on lawsuits to keep info secret

Last Updated Mar 14, 2017 8:06 AM EDT

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration in its final year in office spent a record $36.2 million on legal costs defending its refusal to turn over federal records under the Freedom of Information Act, according to an Associated Press analysis of new U.S. data that also showed poor performance in other categories measuring transparency in government.

For a second consecutive year, the Obama administration set a record for times federal employees told citizens, journalists and others that despite searching they couldn’t find a single page of files that were requested.

And it set records for outright denial of access to files, refusing to quickly consider requests described as especially newsworthy, and forcing people to pay for records who had asked the government to waive search and copy fees.

The government acknowledged when challenged that it had been wrong to initially refuse to turn over all or parts of records in more than one-third of such cases, the highest rate in at least six years.

In courtrooms, the number of lawsuits filed by news organizations under the Freedom of Information Act surged during the past four years, led by the New York Times, Center for Public Integrity and The Associated Press, according to a litigation study by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. The AP on Monday settled its 2015 lawsuit against the State Department for files about Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, at AP’s request, and received $150,546 from the department to cover part of its legal fees.

The AP has pending lawsuits against the FBI for records about its decision to impersonate an AP journalist during a criminal investigation and about who helped the FBI hack into a mass shooting suspect’s iPhone and how much the government paid to do it.

Of the $36.2 million in legal costs fighting such lawsuits last year, the Justice Department accounted for $12 million, the Homeland Security Department for $6.3 million and the Pentagon for $4.8 million. The three departments accounted for more than half the government’s total records requests last year.

The figures reflect the final struggles of the Obama administration during the 2016 election to meet President Barack Obama’s pledge that it was “the most transparent administration in history,” despite wide recognition of serious problems coping with requests under the information law. It received a record 788,769 requests for files last year and spent a record $478 million answering them and employed 4,263 full-time FOIA employees across more than 100 federal departments and agencies. That was higher by 142 such employees the previous year.

A spokesman for former President Obama did not immediately respond to an email request for comment late Monday. The White House under Obama routinely defended its efforts under the information law in recent years and said federal employees worked diligently on such requests for records.

It remains unclear how President Donald Trump’s administration will perform under the Freedom of Information Act or other measures of government transparency. Trump has not spoken extensively about transparency. In his private business and his presidential campaign, Trump required employees and advisers to sign non-disclosure agreements that barred them from discussing their work. His administration has barred some mainstream news organizations from campaign rallies and one White House press briefing. And Trump broke with tradition by refusing to disclose his tax returns.

Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is traveling to Asia this week on a small plane without a contingent of journalists or a designated pool reporter who would send reports to the broader diplomatic press corps, departing from 50 years of practice.

Overall, in the final year of Obama’s administration, people who asked for records last year under the law received censored files or nothing in 77 percent of requests, about the same as the previous year. In the first full year after Obama’s election, that figure was only 65 percent of cases. The government released the new figures in the days ahead of Sunshine Week, which ends Sunday, when news organizations promote open government and freedom of information.

Under the records law, citizens and foreigners can compel the U.S. 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.

© 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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#1514946 --- 05/23/18 12:09 PM Re: Transparency in Government [Re: luckyduck]
Timbo Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 07/18/12
Posts: 14295
Loc: CNY

What an imbecilic attempt to clearly imply wrongdoing on the part of the Obama administration.

While the buck certainly tops at the Oval Office, the US government is so incredibly compartmentalized and insular in procedure and management as to make this article, utterly laughable. Increases in REQUESTS for information in N0 way indicates malfeasance or criminality, and are equally as likely to be the result of (for instance) expanded efforts by Republicans to collect dirt, and or discredit the president and his administration.

Just because a record is requested, doesn't mean that the public automatically has the right to it (especially in light of anti-terrorism efforts). Nominal processing fees for records are de riguer in most FOIA request cases. Finally, with the sweeping new laws and changes of policies instituted by the administration, it's only logical that increased requests for information would result.

Don't get me wrong. I'm no big fan of the FBI in some cases. Take for instance when they grossly misstate the number of cases of smart phones by a factor of four in order to force companies like Apple to provide the government with a back-door to inspect the contents contained within (they claimed 7,800 but in fact, there were FAR less than 2,000), but let's get real here... context is EVERYTHING.

Besides, I can think of 100 more newsworthy stories that aren't over a year old. Take for instance, a story about the Trump administrations recent track record on FOIA requests.
smirk

FOIA Lawsuits Surge in Trump Administration’s First Year:
http://foiaproject.org/2018/01/16/lawsuits-trump-first-year/

Federal government sets new record for censoring, withholding files under FOIA:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/foia-federa...administration/

Freedom of Information Act Suits Increase Sharply Under Trump:
http://freebeacon.com/issues/freedom-information-act-suits-increase-sharply-trump/
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#1514972 --- 05/24/18 10:33 AM Re: Transparency in Government [Re: luckyduck]
luckyduck Offline
Member

Registered: 06/15/11
Posts: 420
Loc: NY
Judicial Watch: State Department Records Show Obama Administration Helped Fund George Soros’ Left-Wing Political Activities in Albania
APRIL 04, 2018

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Obama USAID Used U.S. Taxpayers’ Funds to Back Soros Group’s Effort to Give Albania’s Socialist Government ‘Full Control Over Judiciary’



(Washington, DC) — Judicial Watch obtained 32 pages of records showing the Obama administration sent U.S. taxpayers’ funds to a group backed by billionaire George Soros, which used the money to fund left-wing political activities in Albania, including working with the country’s socialist government to push for highly controversial judicial “reform.” The records also detail how the Soros operation helped the State Department review grant applications from other groups for taxpayer funding.

The records were obtained in a May 26, 2017, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) after both the State Department and USAID failed to respond to March 31, 2017, FOIA requests (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (No. 1:17-cv-01012)). Judicial Watch agreed to dismiss the lawsuit after it received the documents and payment of attorneys’ fees.

The new documents show USAID funds were funneled through that agency’s Civil Society Project to back Soros’s left-wing Open Society Foundations in Albania, particularly the Soros operation efforts to give the socialist government greater control of the judiciary. USAID reportedly gave $9 million in 2016 to the “Justice for All” campaign, which is overseen by Soros’s “East West Management Institute.”

In March 2017, a group of six U.S. Senators led by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) sent a letter to then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson asking that he investigate charges that the U.S. government was using taxpayer funds to assist Soros in Albania. The letter said, “Foundation Open society-Albania and its experts, with funding from USAID, have created the controversial Strategy Document for Albanian Judicial Reform. Some leaders believe that these ‘reforms’ are ultimately aimed to give the Prime Minister and left-of-center government full control over the judiciary.” In the Albanian parliament, opposition leaders have labeled the Strategy “a Soros-sponsored reform.”

The new records released by Judicial Watch include an April 2016 memo from the U.S. Embassy in Tirana that reveals that the embassy “sponsored” a survey along with Soros’s Open Society Foundation to measure Albanian citizens’ “knowledge, support, and expectations on justice reform.” The Soros group survey reported that “91% of respondents either ‘fully support’ or ‘somewhat support’ the need for judicial reform.” The poll did not specify the type of reform the Soros group was seeking.

Also, records dated February 2017 show that the State Department used taxpayer funds to co-sponsor a second poll with the Open Society Foundation on judicial reforms that would essentially solidify the left’s control of the Albanian government. The report notes that the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Section and the Open Society Foundation “each provided funding to a local organization to conduct a public opinion poll on attitudes towards the Judicial Reform effort.”

The records also reveal that the State Department gave the Soros organization direct input for its own program funding reviews in Albania. The February 10, 2017, report on “Engagement with the Open Society Foundation for Albania” notes that “As one of the major assistance providers in Albania, representatives from the Open Society Foundation are frequently asked to participate in technical reviews of application [sic] that we receive for funding.”

The U.S. Ambassador to Albania Donald Lu, a holdover from the Obama administration, has been closely linked to Soros and the socialist government in Albania. In May 2017, Lu helped undermine Albanian opposition party plans to protest the upcoming parliamentary election by declaring that the U.S. would recognize the election results even if opposition parties refused to participate. Lu has been described in the U.S. press as “a driving force behind Albania’s judicial reforms.”

“The Obama administration quietly spent at least $9 million in U.S. taxpayers’ dollars in direct collusion with left-wing billionaire George Soros’ backing of a socialist government in Albania. It is particularly outrageous that the State Department allowed the Soros operation to help direct taxpayer funds to other groups,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said. “George Soros is a billionaire and he shouldn’t be receiving taxpayer support to advance his radical left agenda to undermine freedom here at home and abroad.”

In related cases, Judicial Watch is seeking information regarding Soros’ activities in Macedonia, Romania and Colombia.

https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room...press%20release

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#1514973 --- 05/24/18 10:44 AM Re: Transparency in Government [Re: luckyduck]
Formermac Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 10/22/12
Posts: 11307
Loc: Above ground
Any credible and reliable source to support those narrative or is this just another futile attempt to detract from the dysfunction going on in the White House? I would say the latter seeing that you've had several years to confirm and clear your subject matter up. grin

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#1514974 --- 05/24/18 10:52 AM Re: Transparency in Government [Re: luckyduck]
Formermac Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 10/22/12
Posts: 11307
Loc: Above ground
https://sunlightfoundation.com/tracking-trumps-attacks-on-transparency/

While on the topic, whats going on with the EPA since most Americans including CNN were literally barred from the meeting?


https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/white-h...ter-out-n876396

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#1514980 --- 05/24/18 02:31 PM Re: Transparency in Government [Re: Formermac]
Timbo Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 07/18/12
Posts: 14295
Loc: CNY

Even 'funnier' than schmuckyduck's use of year-old "headlines",
is that he uses propaganda that originated on a white supremacy blog.

More fake news for the poorly-educated racist.
grin

_________________________
Everyone's entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

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#1514982 --- 05/24/18 04:42 PM Re: Transparency in Government [Re: Timbo]
Formermac Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 10/22/12
Posts: 11307
Loc: Above ground
https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/24/politics/...ller/index.html

It seem as if Mueller has called Trump's bluff by giving him a specific date on a Mueller/Trump interview but Trump is rebuffing this date. Donald, here's the deal, if as you say, this cloud as you call it is a "Witch Hunt" why not move the date up to say, next month since you won't be meeting Kim Un and get this entire investigation over with? Smart Liberal know the answer, as soon as you open your mouth, you will perjure yourself seeing that all you've stated in the last several months are all lies. grin

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#1514985 --- 05/24/18 06:27 PM Re: Transparency in Government [Re: Formermac]
Timbo Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 07/18/12
Posts: 14295
Loc: CNY
Originally Posted By: Formermac

Saw that one coming a mile away. smirk
_________________________
Everyone's entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.

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#1516309 --- 07/03/18 01:54 PM Re: Transparency in Government [Re: Timbo]
kyle585 Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 02/18/09
Posts: 19801
Loc: Somewhere out there
https://www.yahoo.com/news/m/28ddece6-bd...-on-report.html

A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., weighed in Tuesday on an NBC News report that House Freedom Caucus founder Jim Jordan allegedly turned his back on wrestlers who said they were sexually abused by an Ohio State team doctor.

“These are serious allegations and issues. The university has rightfully initiated a full investigation into the matter. The speaker will await the findings of that inquiry,” said Doug Andres, a spokesman for Ryan.


NBC News reported on Tuesday that former Ohio State wrestlers said Jordan ignored sexual abuse that was allegedly committed by team doctor Richard Strauss.

“I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” one wrestler said, according to NBC. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”
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**** ATTENTION! BAD POLITICIANS ARE ELECTED BY GOOD PEOPLE WHO DON'T VOTE! ****

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#1516642 --- 07/11/18 04:31 PM Re: Transparency in Government [Re: kyle585]
kyle585 Offline
Gold Member

Registered: 02/18/09
Posts: 19801
Loc: Somewhere out there
OMG Johnson, are you on Putin's payroll too?

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/7/...icking-on-Putin


After spending his Fourth of July holiday watching ballet in St. Petersburg and visiting with Russian officials in Moscow, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is back in the states to say that we’ve been too hard on Vladimir Putin. As Roll Call reports, Johnson stated that the United States had gotten way, way too upset about the fact that Russia stole information from one campaign, fed it to the other, created hundreds of false media sites, disseminated thousands of false social media posts, sent Russian agents to conduct fake “grassroots” protests on American soil, and invested millions in targeted ads over Facebook, Google, and other services.

Not every member of the Republican Moscow Brigade seemed that thrilled with their Russian hosts. Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy said that Russian tactics reminded him of the Mafia, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is “a bully” who “started out in the world as a smartass and worked his way up.”Which is a type that should be all too familiar to many within the Republican Party
_________________________
**** ATTENTION! BAD POLITICIANS ARE ELECTED BY GOOD PEOPLE WHO DON'T VOTE! ****

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