Transparent as Mud

When Barack Obama took office he pledged that his administration would be the most transparent administration in history. And it certainly has been … if by transparent you mean the murky bottom of a Kenyan swamp. A news report out of the Associated Press has given us yet another example (as if we needed another one) of the grand and glorious Obama “transparency.” It turns out that several of the president’s political appointees are using secret government email accounts including Cabinet secretary for the Health and Human Services Department, Kathleen Sebelius.

They claim that these secret accounts are necessary to prevent their inboxes from being overwhelmed with unwanted messages. Yeah, like from citizens who want to know what these bureaucratic weasels are up to.

Using hidden accounts is sneaky and underhanded. The secret email accounts complicate an agency’s legal responsibilities to find and turn over emails in response to congressional or internal investigations, civil lawsuits or public records requests because employees assigned to compile such responses would necessarily need to know about the accounts to search them. Secret accounts also drive perceptions that government officials are trying to hide actions or decisions. And we all know that they would never do such things, right?

The Associated Press wanted to obtain lists of political appointees’ email addresses under the Freedom of Information Act but most of those agencies have failed to turn over the lists. The Labor Department initially asked the AP to pay more than $1 million for its email addresses. At least two other senior HHS officials – including Donald Berwick, former head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and Gary Cohen, a deputy administrator in charge of implementing health insurance reform – also have secret government email addresses, according to the records obtained by the AP. Secret emails of the administrators that head up Medicare services and health insurance. Just what do these guys have to hide?

Then we have the Interior Department. They gave the AP a list of about 100 government email addresses for political appointees who work there but none for the interior secretary at the time, Ken Salazar, who has since resigned. Spokeswoman Jessica Kershaw said Salazar maintained only one email address while serving as secretary but she would not disclose it. She said the AP should ask for it under the Freedom of Information Act, which would take months longer. Good luck with that.

The AP asked for the addresses following last year’s disclosures that the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency had used separate email accounts at work.

Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson used an email account under the phony name “Richard Windsor” to sidestep disclosure rules. That’s right. She made up a fake name! There’s no such person! The EPA said emails Jackson sent using her Windsor alias were turned over under open records requests. The agency’s inspector general is investigating the use of such accounts, after being asked to do so by Congress. We shall see about that.

An EPA spokeswoman described Jackson’s alternate email address as “an everyday, working email account of the administrator to communicate with staff and other government officials.” Really? USING A MADE UP NAME? Give me a break! It was later determined that Jackson also used the email address to correspond sometimes with environmentalists outside government and at least in some cases did not correct a misperception among outsiders they were corresponding with a government employee named Richard Windsor.

I wonder how well it would go over with the feds if I used a fake identity to file my income taxes. Oh, wait a minute. It’s already being done by illegal aliens. It’s called identity theft. The government doesn’t really mind that too much, but you can bet I’d be shut away for about 30 to life if I tried to pull that crap.

Add this to the other secretive scandals that have been coming to light in the recent weeks and months throughout Obama’s administration such as the IRS targeting conservative Tea Party groups, the missing facts on Benghazi and the State Department lying about it, and the Department of Justice harassing various news gathering organizations.

Yes indeed. The Obama administration is the most transparent administration in history. If by history you mean the last four years. And if by transparent you mean like a stonewall.

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