President Obama in the White House, December 3, 2015 — the day after 14 Americans were killed and 22 were seriously injured at a Christmas party terrorism attack in San Bernardino, California.
By Margaret Sullivan
May 24, 2016
Some things just aren’t cool. One of those, according to our no-drama president, is ignorance.
“It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about,” President Obama said during his recent Rutgers University commencement address. It was a swipe clearly intended for he-who-didn’t-need-to-be-named: Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee for president.
Okay, no argument there.
But the Obama administration itself has been part of a different know-nothing problem. It has kept the news media — and therefore the public — in the dark far too much over the past 7 1/2 years.
After early promises to be the most transparent administration in history, this has been one of the most secretive. And in certain ways, one of the most elusive. It’s also been one of the most punitive toward whistleblowers and leakers who want to bring light to wrongdoing they have observed from inside powerful institutions.
That’s why I’m skeptical about the notion that Americans will soon know what they need to know about drone strikes — the targeted killings that have become a major part of the administration’s anti-terrorism effort in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.
How many of the dead were terrorists or militants? How many were civilians, killed as collateral damage? The administration’s accounting — promised three years ago — will arrive when it hardly matters anymore for holding this administration accountable. But, as The Washington Post reported on Monday, it’s also going to be incomplete, omitting what has happened in Pakistan, where hundreds of strikes have taken place.
Jennifer Gibson, a lawyer for the international human rights organization known as Reprieve, made this pointed statement: “Excluding the vast majority of drone strikes from this assessment means that it will hardly be worth the paper it is printed on.” Reprieve and another British organization, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, have long challenged the administration’s accounting of drone deaths, using their own research to insist that there are far more fatalities, and a higher percentage of civilian deaths, than the U.S. government admits.
Meanwhile, the most transparent administration in history continues doing transparency its own way.
Call it Transparency Lite. On Monday, during a visit to Vietnam, the president spent some quality time with the media — in the form of Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef. A couple of years ago, he did a heavily publicized interview with the comedian Zach Galifianakis on the faux talk show “Between Two Ferns,” and last year he made a visit to podcaster Marc Maron’s garage for a chat about fatherhood and overcoming fear.
President Obama went all the way to Vietnam to go to dinner with ANOTHER AMERICAN? — Anthony Bourdain — What are we paying for? This is not, not international diplomacy…. The American people should get a refund for all the wasted jet fuel on Air Force One….
But his on-the-record interviews with hard-news, government reporters have been relatively rare — and, rather than being wide-ranging, often limited to a single subject, such as the economy.
Remarkably, Post news reporters haven’t been able to interview the president since late 2009. Think about that. The Post is, after all, perhaps the leading news outlet on national government and politics, with no in-depth, on-the-record access to the president of the United States for almost all of his two terms.
I couldn’t get anyone in the White House press office to address this, despite repeated attempts by phone and email — which possibly proves my point.
But a thorough study from Martha Joynt Kumar, a retired Towson University professor, describes the administration’s strategy. The president does plenty of interviews, she writes — far more than any other president in recent history. But these interviews are tightly controlled and targeted toward specific topics, and, it seems to me, often granted to soft questioners. (All of this is a major shift from a time when news conferences and short question-and-answer sessions allowed reporters to pursue news topics aggressively and in real time.)
More interviews, less accountability. Feet kept safe from the fire.
Meanwhile, on media rights generally, the Obama administration hasn’t walked its talk. It has set new records for stonewalling or rejecting Freedom of Information requests. And it has used an obscure federal act to prosecute leakers. It continued the punishing treatment of a National Security Agency whistleblower, Thomas Drake (dismaying new details have emerged recently in book excerpts by John Crane, a former Pentagon investigator), and threatened to send the New York Times investigative reporter James Risen to jail for his good-faith insistence on protecting his confidential source.
Promising transparency and criticizing ignorance, but delivering secrecy and opacity? That doesn’t serve the public or the democracy. And that’s deeply uncool.
Peace and Freedom OPINION:
Promising transparency but lying to cover the truth
Could you keep your doctor? Could you keep your health care plan?
No. Of course not.
President Obama lied about just about every aspect of his health care plan now called Obamacare — to get it passed through Congress despite its many flaws that would have been uncovered and discussed if the President, Nancy Pelosi and others had acted in good faith with the American people.
They lied to you and me. And we were stupid enough to believe their fairy tales.
Remember Pelosi: “We Have to Pass the Bill So That You Can Find Out What Is In It”.
That was a stupid and shameful thing to say.
It was even more stupid and shameful that we, the people, went along with a stupid, unaffordable plan. It is also stupid and shameful that Republicans didn’t stop Obamacare before it became a law.
We could go on.
Was the Iran nuclear deal a good thing for America or a good thing for American allies?
Nope. We gave billions of dollars to a nation the State Department listed as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism.”
Now Iran is fighting against out allies in Syria and Yemen.
President Obama turned his back on Israel and Saudi Arabia and other long-time American allies while he made the Iran nuclear deal.
Now Iran is even stronger — and has joined forces with China and Russia, the two nations that make no secret of their desire to fight against America almost everywhere on earth.
It isn’t so much that President Obama has made a lot of bad deals.
What should anger every American is that President Obama lied about all his horrible deals.
That’s just unAmerican. President Obama must believe that the ends justify the means.
He says his administration is the most transparent ever. That was not true.
And the list goes on…
Name one thing that is getting better in America or the world because of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The American economy? “Growing” at a snail’s pace.
American race relations? Not improving. Jobs people can be proud of? Where are they?
Health care? A lot of young folks are opting out of Obamacare and the premiums for the old folks are going through the roof. Plus the biggest and best insurance companies are pulling out of Obamacare.
More people in America are on food stamps. Crime seems to be rising. The murder rate in President Obama’s home town, Chicago, is sky rocketing. Why is that?
Bill and Hillary Clinton became rich — $100 Million rich — while serving the American people.
Is you life better? Mine isn’t.
Why do we put up with this?
John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom
Meet the mastermind behind Clinton’s massive email coverup — “The FBI saw massive document destruction and clear intent to withhold material evidence.” — Corruption and obstruction of justice in the Obama administration
Russian Tupolev Tu-22 M3 strategic bomber of the Russian Air Force are now taking off from Iran to bomb hospitals and American allies in Syria
Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, testifying before a congressional committee investigating the deaths of four Americans at Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012. This appears to be her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 23, 2013. She said during Congressional testimony, “What difference, at this point, does it make?” She seemed to attack the lawmakers entrusted with the task of getting to the truth. Photo by KEVIN LAMARQUE/REUTERS
Hillary Clinton talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Ji on September 5, 2012. He got promoted, she’s running for president and China pretty much owns the South China Sea.
Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov press a red button symbolizing the intention to “reset” US-Russian relations in March 2009. Photo: AP — Russia got Crimea, Syria, and half of Ukraine. NATO had to be reinforced by U.S. troops
French prime minister opposes US-EU Trade Deal — “This agreement is not on track” — Who Is “Back of the Queue” Now? (From Sunday, June 26, 2016)
Susan Rice September 16, 2012, just a few days after the attack on the U.S. at Benghazi. She told and re-told the lie that blamed the attack on a video seen as offensive to Muslims on all five major U.S. TV Sunday news talk shows. President Obama promoted her from U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to the post of U.S. National Security Adviser.
The number of migrants and refugees during the Obama Administration has exceeded the total number from World War II.
Because the threat of Radical Islamic Terrorism was not addressed more forcefully from the start with a concerted campaign to eliminate them, the number of killed, wounded and displaced has continued to rise. The citizens of Syria and other places gave up waiting for Barack Obama to end the war and, at great peril to their own lives, and the lives of their family members, they became refugees and migrants. How much longer must the world stay in this state of upheaval?
President Obama now has the distinction of being the longest serving American president during war in the history of the United States. That’s his legacy.
The IRS “Targeted” 426 Conservative Groups for “Special Scrutiny” Due to Their Political Beliefs — Eric Holder’s Justice Department, Backed Up by President Obama, Gave Citizens Plenty of Reasons To Distrust Their Government
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in — you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass… Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
Tags: Anthony Bourdain, Benghazi, China, corruption, Freedom of Information requests, government transparency, Hillary Clinton, Iran, North Korea, Obama, Obama Administration, Obama administration hasn’t walked its talk, Obama promised most Transparency ever, Obama's Transparency, obamacare, pivot to Asia, Promising transparency but lying to cover the truth, Republicans, Reset with Russia, Russia, state sponsor of terrorism, Syria, transparency, Yemen