Barack Obama, who promised to lead the most transparent administration in American history, is actually leading the most secretive.
That’s not my assertion.
It’s the finding of the Associated Press, the largest news-gathering organization in the world and one not exactly known for its aggressive reporting into Obama scandals.
Here’s the lead from a story published a week ago – which barely registered a blip on the media Richter scale and appeared on “Sunshine Week,” when news organization promote open government and freedom of information: “The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.”
“The administration cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy,” the story continued. “Most agencies also took longer to answer records requests, the analysis found. The government’s own figures from 99 federal agencies covering six years show that half way through its second term, the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records despite its promises from Day 1 to become the most transparent administration in history.”
What was the Obama administration’s response to the report? It was right out of George Orwell’s “1984.”
The White House said the government’s figures demonstrate “that agencies are responding to the president’s call for greater transparency.”
Now even New York Times reporter James Risen is calling the Obama administration the “greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” Risen said correspondents who refuse to allow the White House to control the flow of information “will be punished.”
But let’s bring it home.
What’s the No. 1 secret guarded by the Obama administration?
It’s not what happened in Benghazi, which could conceivably have national security implications.
It’s not the missing Malaysian airliner.
It’s what is being spent by U.S. taxpayers on travel expenses by Barack Obama and his family.
For instance, why should the Obama family’s vacation expenses in 2012 and 2013 be a matter of official state secrecy?
According to a WND report six months ago, the figure ranges between at least $60 million and possibly as high as $100 million for three trips that were billed as vacations – all paid by taxpayers. But that’s just the start.
There have been reports that the Obamas spent more than $7 million for just travel for just three trips in late 2012 and early 2013, including more than $4 million to go to a Hawaiian vacation at Christmas, more than $2.1 million for a trip to California and back for Barack Obama to “dine with high-dollar fundraiser Jeffrey Katzenberg and appear on the ‘Tonight Show’ with Jay Leno” and nearly another $1.2 million for an “Obama family August vacation” to Martha’s Vineyard.
Just this week there’s a report that Michelle Obama, her girls and her mom have been staying in a suite costing $8,350 per night in China.
But exact totals for the Obamas’ travel expenses are impossible to obtain because the government and others simply decline to release the figures. The White House, for example, notes that security costs for the first family are not going to be released. The Secret Service says its figures are secret.
And officials with the Democratic National Committee, who are familiar with the costs because they are supposed to reimburse the government for the campaign use of government airplanes, also have declined to respond to WND requests for information.
Air Force One, which ferries President Obama to and from vacations and fundraisers, costs nearly $230,000 an hour to fly, although some smaller jets used occasionally for his family alone might be less expensive. There have been zero reports about the carbon footprint left behind by such ventures.
The dollar figures that are available have been compiled by Judicial Watch, including $98,135.79 for Obama’s President’s Day 2013 golf trip, $81,523.64 for Michelle Obama’s President’s Day 2013 ski trip, $1,092,844.01 for Michelle Obama’s Africa trip, $115,500.87 for Malia Obama’s spring break in Mexico, $83,182.99 for Michelle Obama’s President’s Day 2012 ski trip, $467,585 for Michelle Obama’s trip to Spain, $467,175 for the Obamas’ Copenhagen Olympic bid, and $11,648.17 for the Obamas to go to New York City for a date night.
Among the details of the expenses that are known, according to JW:
The 2012-2013 Christmas vacation cost taxpayers – for travel alone – nearly $4.1 million. Those expenses for Obama’s trip to be on the Leno show, $2.1 million, and the Martha’s Vineyard trip, $1.1 million.
“The Obamas are abusing the public trust and the taxpayers with unnecessary luxurious vacations and travel,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton has said. “These staggering costs show why these documents were covered up and we had to sue in federal court to get them. Another transparency fail for the Obama gang.”
Why is Obama so secretive? Because the truth would be even more embarrassing than what has been recapped here.
Media wishing to interview Joseph Farah, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.