Friday, March 20, 2015

Secrets, lies and liars: What is behind the Obama denial of information requests?

Secrets, lies and liars:

The Tri City Herald ran a story "Obama sets denial record,"  claiming that the Obama Administration has denied more requests for information than any other ... in the past year ... blaa blaa blaa.

There was a sudden rash of requests all right, at all three levels: more requests made, more requests granted and more requests denied. It stands to reason that they all went up together, but wait, there is more to this. The TCH -- and undoubtedly numerous other outlets, conveniently failed to include some of the most important details.



Without the missing information, which is a news reporters's most basic duty to dig into, I cannot even begin to relate that article any kind of relative truth/lie scale. Please consider the following issues:


As I understand the reports, the record increase in denials was for the past year only. This is suspicious to me.
  •  You need to know how many Freedom of Information requests or RFIs were dumped on the administration at this critical time, and why.
  • To evaluate the truth/lie value of the reports, you need data on the number of RFIs received, not just the RFI's denied. I will explain why below.
  • The denials came at a unique time, when Republicans were attempting to sabotage the President's peace negotiations over Iran's nuclear programs.
  • Forty-seven lawmakers during that time had been attempting to undermine high-level, Presidential security dealings that could save lives, possibly  millions of lives, by working out a win-win agreement over Iran's nuclear programs. These people have been described, among other things, as treasonous and many of us feel they should be in prison, not in the halls of Congress.

Other unanswered questions

Did Republicans flood the government with requests on purpose in order to deliberately inflate the number of denials? 

How many of the extra load of requests (if any) were related to the attempts to undermine national and international security?  

Other thoughts and opinions

These 47 lawmakers could be in big trouble if they are found to be undermining world peace and the security of the United States.

The article mentioned that there had been budget cuts in the departments responsible for granting FOI 

Politics has gone downhill badly in the mad frenzy to discredit our President: Without knowing the numbers on the freedom of information requests, decade by decade, year by year, you will be hopelessly handicapped in determining who the real culprits may be. 

Politicians, and in particular the military, understand the power of document dumping as a weapon to obfuscate, delay, swamp down and perhaps sabotage their opponents. 

Buried somewhere in the article, the newspaper did admit that citizens made a record number of requests (714,231) during the period and responded to 647,142 requests, which was a four percent increase over he previous year. This tells me that, in spite of layoffs (due to budget cuts I think), the government may have actually set a record on the number of requests granted. The article was not specific about that, but I am going to assume for the time being that something unusual accounted for both all three: the larger number of requests, the large number of denials, and the larger number of granted requests.  

Senator John Cornyn was quoted as calling it a "dismal track record." The good Senator undoubtedly says a lot of things that I would take with a grain of salt.

My recommendation

It is too tempting to jump to conclusions based upon insufficient information. I recommend withholding judgement on this until you see the rest of the story.

Please help out by liking, sharing, and commenting. Thanks.

NOTE: This article/opinion piece may be subject to updating as information becomes available. It is also possible that I have introduced errors, typo's whatever, and if I discover them I will make changes. I also reserve the right to rewrite for stylistic reasons. 

#FOI #obamasetsdenialrecord #did #obama #freedomofinformation #isthepresidentcensoring 

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