Monday, February 23, 2009

Transparent government? Nope.

Distracted as he may be by the economic crisis, Obama is fast running out of excuses for why he talked a good game about open government, but in reality his DOJ is backing Bush positions on concealing records at every turn. The latest:

Obama’s DOJ quietly sought dismissal of missing White House emails lawsuit

But despite it all, the newly minted Obama administration said in court papers that the issue revolving around the missing emails is “moot” because some steps, however incomplete, had been taken by the Bush White House to preserve and restore missing emails, even though the work has been conducted under the cover of secrecy by an unknown outside contractor hired by Bush administration officials.

In a mid-January court filing that sought dismissal of the lawsuit, the Justice Department claimed that the 14 million emails were never actually “missing,” rather the emails were simply unaccounted for due to a “flawed and limited” internal review by the Office of Administration in 2005. The documents were retrieved, the Justice Department claims, “through a three-phased email recovery process.”

Obama’s Justice Department appears to have taken the Bush administration on its word that a good faith effort has been made to restore missing emails, according to CREW’s 24-page motion arguing against having the case dismissed.

“One day after the Bush administration ended, defendants filed a motion to dismiss that reflects an incredibly cynical and narrow view of defendants’ obligations under the Federal Records Act (“FRA”),” the watchdog group’s court filing says. “According to defendants, because they have taken some action -- no matter how flawed, incomplete or limited -- the first four counts of plaintiffs’ complaints are now moot. Hiding behind technical jargon and theoretical constructs, defendants attempt to obscure three basic facts: we still do not know how many emails are missing; we still do not know the source of the problem that caused emails to be missing in the first place; and we still do not know if the problem has been fixed.

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