Tag Archives | Obama Administration

President Obama’s Muddy Record on Government Transparency

FOIAJosh Gerstein reports in the Politico:

President Barack Obama set a high bar for open government, and he set it quickly. A minute after he took office, the White House website declared his administration would become “the most open and transparent in history.” By the end of his first full day on the job, Obama had issued high-profile orders pledging “a new era” and “an unprecedented level of openness” across the massive federal government.

But three years into his presidency, critics say Obama’s administration has failed to deliver the refreshing blast of transparency that the president promised.

“Obama is the sixth administration that’s been in office since I’ve been doing Freedom of Information Act work. … It’s kind of shocking to me to say this, but of the six, this administration is the worst on FOIA issues. The worst. There’s just no question about it,” said Katherine Meyer, a Washington lawyer who’s been filing FOIA cases since 1978.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Obama Administration Escalates Confrontation With Iran: Why?

Iran / USAMark Weisbrot writes for the Center for Economic and Policy Research:

The Obama Administration announced two weeks ago that a bumbling Iranian-American used car salesman had conspired with a U.S. government agent posing as a representative of Mexican drug cartels to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington. This brought highly skeptical reactions from experts here across the political spectrum.

But even if some of this tale turns out to be true, the handling of such accusations is inherently political. For example, the U.S.  government’s 9/11 commission investigated the links between the attackers and the Saudi ruling family, but refused to make public the results of that investigation. The reason is obvious: There is dirt there and Washington doesn’t want to create friction with a key ally. And keep in mind that this is about complicity with an attack on American soil that killed 3,000 people.

By contrast, the Obama Administration seized upon the rather dubious speculation that “the highest levels of the Iranian government” were involved in this alleged plot.  President Obama announced that “all options are on the table,” which is well-known code for possible military action.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Where’s the Outrage? Secret Panel Can Put Americans on ‘Kill List’

Kill BillFunny, how Obama supporters aren’t going batshit over this when this is the very sort of thing that got them worked up during the Bush administration … Mark Hosenball reported in Reuters:

American militants like Anwar al-Awlaki are placed on a kill or capture list by a secretive panel of senior government officials, which then informs the president of its decisions, according to officials.

There is no public record of the operations or decisions of the panel, which is a subset of the White House’s National Security Council, several current and former officials said. Neither is there any law establishing its existence or setting out the rules by which it is supposed to operate.

The panel was behind the decision to add Awlaki, a U.S.-born militant preacher with alleged al Qaeda connections, to the target list. He was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen late last month.

The role of the president in ordering or ratifying a decision to target a citizen is fuzzy.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

U.S. Approves Free Birth Control For Women

Photo: Ceridwen (CC)

Photo: Ceridwen (CC)

It’s a good time to be a woman. Via Reuters:

U.S. health insurance companies must offer women free birth control and other preventive health care services under Obama administration rules released on Monday, a historic decision supported by family planning groups and opposed by conservative groups.

The rules from the Health and Human Services Department are part of the nation’s healthcare overhaul and largely follow recommendations from an advisory group released last month.

The U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, commissioned by the Obama administration, recommended that all U.S.-approved birth control methods — including the “morning-after pill,” taken shortly after intercourse to stop a pregnancy — be added to the list of preventive health services.

[Continues at Reuters]… Read the rest

Continue Reading

The Battle Over FBI’s Warrantless GPS Tracking

GPS TrackerKim Zetter writes on WIRED’s Threat Level:

Kathy Thomas knew she was under surveillance. The animal rights and environmental activist had been trailed daily by cops over several months, and had even been stopped on occasion by police and FBI agents.

But when the surveillance seemed to halt suddenly in mid-2005 after she confronted one of the agents, she thought it was all over. Months went by without a peep from the FBI surveillance teams that had been tracking her in undercover vehicles and helicopters. That’s when it occurred to her to check her car.

Rumors had been swirling among activists that the FBI might be using GPS to track them — two activists in Colorado discovered mysterious devices attached to their car bumpers in 2003 — so Thomas (a pseudonym) went out to the vehicle in a frenzy and ran her hands beneath the rear bumper. She was only half-surprised to find a small electronic device and foot-long battery wand secured to her metal fender with industrial-strength magnets.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Thousands Of Stimulus Checks Went To The Deceased And Incarcerated

Someone didn’t check their list twice to  see who was naughty or dead. From The Washington Post.:

The federal government last year sent about 89,000 checks of $250 each to dead or incarcerated people through the Obama administration’s economic stimulus program, according to a watchdog report.

The Social Security Administration distributed about $13 billion to 52 million eligible beneficiaries in the form of $250 checks as part of the economic recovery program. The program cost $814 billion. Most of the payments were issued properly, but SSA failed to check all available payment records or was unaware that beneficiaries had died, according to a report by the Social Security Office of Inspector General.

Although SSA lacks the authority to recoup most of the money, the report estimates that slightly more than half of the payments have been returned.

Continues at The Washington Post …… Read the rest

Continue Reading