Tag Archives | Obama Administration

Obama Administration Proposes Weakening Freedom Of Information Act

freedom of information actObama pushes for officials to gain the right to lie about the existence of documents or materials. Via the Denver Post:

The federal Freedom of Information Act was supposed to be a torch that journalists, advocates and ordinary people could use to cast a light on the operations of their government. It’s profoundly disappointing to see the Obama administration proposing changes to FOIA that would allow federal agencies to lie about the very existence of information being sought.

The worst among them is the proposed change that would allow the government to tell those requesting information under FOIA that the material does not exist when, in fact, it does. The change would apply to certain law enforcement or national security documents.

Currently, the government can issue what is called a Glomar response, which is when the government neither confirms nor denies the existence of the material.

That term was coined after a Los Angeles Times reporter in the mid-1970s attempted to obtain information about the CIA’s Glomar Explorer, a vessel built to raise a sunken Soviet submarine from the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

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U.S. Department Of Justice Secretly Granted Immunity For Internet Providers Engaging In Cybersurveillance Program

cybersurveillanceIf it’s in the name of “security,” telecommunications corporations can now monitor users’ personal messages with special legal immunity granted from existing wiretapping laws, CNET News reports:

Obama administration officials have secretly authorized the interception of communications on networks operated by AT&T and other service providers, a practice that might otherwise be illegal under federal wiretapping laws.

The secret legal authorization from the Justice Department originally applied to a cybersecurity pilot project in which the military monitored defense contractors’ Internet links. Since then, however, the program has been expanded by President Obama to cover sectors including energy, healthcare, and finance starting June 12.

The Justice Department agreed to grant legal immunity to the participating network providers in the form of what participants in the confidential discussions refer to as “2511 letters,” a reference to the Wiretap Act codified at 18 USC 2511 in the federal statute books.

“The Justice Department is helping private companies evade federal wiretap laws,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which obtained over 1,000 pages of internal government documents and provided them to CNET this week.

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Former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Says He Was Told ‘Not To Acknowledge Existence’ Of Drones Program

Appearing on MSNBC, Robert Gibbs, Barack Obama's press secretary for much of his first term, on the administration's concern with keeping drone killings out of public knowledge: “When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, you’re not even to acknowledge the drone program. You’re not even to discuss that it exists.”
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Obama’s Only Presidential Pardon This Year Was The Thanksgiving Turkey

ThinkProgress points out that Cobbler the turkey was the only recipient of a presidential mercy in 2012:

Although the Constitution confers on the president the power to “grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States,” a recent ProPublica report found that Obama had exercised that power more rarely than any president in modern history. As law professor Mark Osler explains, the framers intended a much more robust presidential use of the pardon power:

The founding fathers did not intend for the pardon power to fall into such disuse. Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 74, argued that “the criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.”

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A Petition To Have Bigfoot Declared An Endangered Species

A Mr. Ken N. of Chesterfield, Missouri established a petition on whitehouse.gov this week asking the Obama Administration to grant Bigfoot protected status. However, the president will not be forced to broach the issue unless the signature tally, which right now stands at a few dozen, gains some steam. The petition reads:

The cryptid known as Bigfoot should be here on out recognized as an endangered species by the Obama administration and the United States of America. Bigfoot also known as the “Sasquatch or Yeti” is in danger of becoming extinct.

We the people petition the Obama administration to recognize “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch” as an American species of animal. We plea with the Obama administration to recognize Bigfoot or Sasquatch as an American species of animal as soon as possible and put it on the endangered species list.

Research is an ongoing effort in the field of studying this creature, and one day it will be discovered and shown to the American public.

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Rebranding Propaganda, Normalizing Torture, Third Party Censorship

On this episode of Breaking the Set, Abby Martin talks about the Third Party Debates that aired live on RT, and talks to Georgetown Professor, Chris Chambers about the total media blackout that keeps alternative voices and third party candidates in the dark. Abby then looks at the NYPD's continued surveillance of Muslim communities and foiled FBI sting operations, and Obama's rebranding of the Bush administration's counter-terrorism policies with an interview with Media Roots Journalist, Robbie Martin.
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Schrödinger’s Drone: The Assassination Program That Both Does and Doesn’t Exist

Picture: WikiMedia Commons (CC)

Despite his many ’08 campaign promises and pronouncements after being inaugurated, Barack Obama’s may be the least transparent presidency in modern history, decreasing the fulfillment of FOIA requests each year, and prosecuting record numbers of whistle-blowers. Some of his past statements now seem laughably naïve (either for him or for us):

“For a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city. The old rules said if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over.”

~Barack Obama, January 21, 2009

Nowhere has this hypocrisy been more *ahem* clear, than with the administration’s ramped up drone program, which it alternately attributes and denies is being coordinated between the military and the CIA. The drone strikes which eyewitness and press reports have shown to take place (even at funeral processions and against those trying to give aid to drone strike victims) are veiled behind contradictory official reports, classifications, outright denials, and obfuscatory language. No accurate assessment of civilian deaths can be made, as the administration refuses to acknowledge any real numbers, and furthermore designates any drone strike victims as ex post facto militant combatants.… Read the rest

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Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty': Another Entry in the Long Tradition of Wartime Propaganda

Here's the official trailer for Zero Dark Thirty (Hilariously kitschy tagline: And Justice for All), Kathryn Bigelow's movie about the United State's  hunt for Osama bin Laden.  The script was written by Mark Boal, with whom Bigelow collaborated on 2008's The Hurt Locker. Both Bigelow and Boal insist that their film is apolitical, but already questions are arising about if two received secret documents on the bin Laden raid from the Obama administration.  They've had no comment, beyond a few muted responses along the usual "We have to protect our sources."
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ProPublica: Obama Administration’s Drone Death Figures Don’t Add Up

Justin Elliott reports on ProPublica:

Last month, a “senior administration official” said the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under President Obama is in the “single digits.” But last year “U.S. officials” said drones in Pakistan killed about 30 civilians in just a yearlong stretch under Obama.

Both claims can’t be true.

A centerpiece of President Obama’s national security strategy, drones strikes in Pakistan are credited by the administration with crippling Al Qaeda but criticized by human rights groups and others for being conducted in secret and killing civilians. The underlying facts are often in dispute and claims about how many people died and who they were vary widely.

So we decided to narrow it down to just one issue: have the administration’s own claims been consistent?

We collected claims by the administration about deaths from drone strikes in Pakistan and compared each one not to local reports but rather to other administration claims.… Read the rest

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NY Judge Still Says President Obama Cannot Indefinitely Detain Americans

Via RT:

Sorry, Mr. President. A US Federal judge has clarified a decision made last month with some news sure to upset the Obama administration: the White House cannot use the NDAA to indefinitely detain American citizens.

Judge Katherine B. Forrest has answered a request made by US President Barack Obama last month to more carefully explain a May 16 ruling made in a Southern District of New York courtroom regarding the National Defense Authorization Act. Clarifying the meaning behind her injunction, Judge Forrest confirms in an eight-page memorandum opinion this week that the NDAA’s controversial provision that permits  indefinite detention cannot be used on any of America’s own citizens.

Last month Judge Forrest ruled in favor of a group of journalists and activists whom filed a suit challenging the constitutionality of Section 1021 of the NDAA, a defense spending bill signed into law by President Obama on New Year’s Eve.

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