The AP published the damning results of its new analysis using federal data that finds the Obama administration not just to have failed to be “the most transparent administration in history,” but to in fact be less transparent than any recent administration. Data from the last two years also shows despite the repeated complaints from journalists and news outlets, the administration “has made few meaningful improvements” to its opaque M.O.
AP’s Ted Bridis and Jack Gillum published the findings of the analysis Monday, stating that “more often than ever” the administration was guilty of concealing its internal dealings:
More often than ever, the administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.
After studying 99 agencies since Obama took office, the AP found that when they did provide requested information, they “took longer to answer records requests,” often delaying long enough that the period of urgency had past. And after six years and continual complaints from the media, AP found little improvement:
The government's own figures from 99 federal agencies covering six years show that halfway through its second term, the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records. In category after category - except for reducing numbers of old requests and a slight increase in how often it waived copying fees - the government's efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office.
Of the reports most damning findings, perhaps the worst was the number of times the administration either censored or denied information to journalists. The AP found that over a third of the time, the administration would either censor or block requested information:
The AP analysis showed that the government more than ever censored materials it turned over or fully denied access to them, in 244,675 cases or 36 percent of all requests. On 196,034 other occasions, the government said it couldn't find records, a person refused to pay for copies or the government determined the request to be unreasonable or improper.
Despite blocking or censoring over a third of all requested information, President Obama was still insisting in 2013 that "this is the most transparent administration in history," arguing only a "handful" of issues have required censoring: