The Obama administration has perfected the art of “selective transparency.” It releases documents when it serves them and keeps them secret when it does not.
We’ve seen this happen time and time again. When the Obama administration wanted to undermine enhanced interrogation techniques, it selectively released certain top-secret Department of Defense memos that supported the administration’s agenda, while conveniently leaving out those documents supporting the effectiveness of the techniques. (JW was ultimately able to force the release of these records.)
The Obama White House also makes a show of posting some of the Secret Service’s White House visitor log entries, while withholding thousands of others and opposing the logs’ full release in court.
But nowhere has this utter hypocrisy been more evident than in the Obama administration’s approach to the raid that led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.
When the administration wanted to project an image of President Obama as a courageous Commander-in-Chief during an election season, they gave the filmmakers of the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” unprecedented access to classified details regarding the raid. But when JW sought to obtain photos and videos documenting the raid and burial of bin Laden on behalf of the American people, the Obama administration stonewalled.
And unfortunately, an appellate court endorsed this unprecedented secrecy earlier this week.
On Tuesday, a ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed a U.S. District Court decision allowing the Defense Department and CIA to withhold 59 images from the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound and the terrorist mastermind’s burial at sea.
Here’s the statement I offered to the press in response:
The opinion is craven, absurd, and undermines the rule of law. The court seems to acknowledge that the images were improperly classified but gives the Obama administration a pass. The court’s interpretation would allow terrorists to dictate our laws. Americans’ fundamental right to access government information and, frankly, the First Amendment are implicated in this ruling.
As one of the judges on this panel suggested that the Benghazi attack was caused by an Internet video, this decision is perhaps unsurprising. The courts need to stop rubberstamping this administration’s improper secrecy. There is no provision of the Freedom of Information Act that allows documents to be kept secret because their release might offend our terrorist enemies. Our lawyers are considering our next legal steps.
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