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In 2008, President Obama excoriated the Bush administration for its lack of transparency, and he vowed to lead the most open administration in U.S. history. Not only has that promise failed to materialize, but the Obama White House is among the most secretive in history and routinely breaks federal laws to keep damaging information from coming to light.
Christopher Horner is a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute specializing in energy and environmental issues, although he studies other issues as well. He has filed scores of Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requests to procure documents from the past three administrations.
Horner said the Obama administration has routinely tried to squelch his requests by forwarding them to the wrong agencies, claiming he would have to pay huge fees for the documents to be processed or just flatly ignored. Several times, Horner has been forced to sue the government for the requests to be honored.
As frustrating as that bureaucratic maze can be, Horner said the administration is also guilty of intentionally breaking the law.
In his new book, "The Liberal War on Transparency," Horner details how multiple officials, including former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Jim Messina, conducted business on private email accounts so those communications would never end up on the public record. Messina, who is now manager of the Obama re-election effort, used a personal email account to negotiate with the drug industry and bring them on board the push to pass Obamacare in exchange for $4 billion in incentives.
Horner said those emails were deleted, despite federal law demanding that all government business be preserved and done through official means of communication. He warned that this is just the tip of the iceberg.
"I've got an affidavit, which I reveal in the book for the first time, from an official in the government acknowledging that they've got essentially a cyber bonfire going on at all times in the administration," said Horner, who said the "bonfire" is tasked with "destroying records, using nongovernmental computers to access governmental servers."
He explained, "They've got this system rigged whereby that destroys all traces of the record on the government system, and because they're using a private computer very deliberately there's no government computer you can then find the trace of the record on. If they did what they were supposed to do, you would leave these electronic footprints everywhere. It's a very organized government-wide systemic effort to avoid leaving any trails. The problem is, that's against the law."