Newsweek

Obama Closes Doors on Openness
Newsweek

As a senator, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding « secret energy meetings » with oil executives at the White House. But last week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama’s « clean coal » policies. One reason: the disclosure of such records might impinge on privileged « presidential communications. »

The refusal, approved by White House counsel Greg Craig’s office, is the latest in a series of cases in which Obama officials have opted against public disclosure. Since Obama pledged on his first day in office to usher in a « new era » of openness, « nothing has changed, » says David Sobel, a lawyer who litigates FOIA cases. « For a president who said he was going to bring unprecedented transparency to government, you would certainly expect more than the recycling of old Bush secrecy policies. »