Hiding the truth can be quite costly. It is expensive to keep the U.S. public in the dark and deny them the Freedom of Information Act requests. In his last year in office, Obama’s administration spent a record-breaking $36 million to protect the refusal to give over files under the Freedom of Information Act.
According to the Associated Press, Obama and his administration have told the people of this country, reporters, and everyone else who has asked that they cannot have what they were looking for. In over one-third of those situations, Obama’s administration was compelled to acknowledge that it has made a mistake when challenged in court regarding their refusal to release the information.
In the past four years, lawsuits filed by news organizations under the Freedom of Information Act increased to unprecedented levels. The NY Times, the Associated Press, and the Center for Public Integrity were the most fond of disputes.
Out of the $36.2 million in legal costs for similar lawsuits past year, the Department of Justice accounted for $12 million, the Homeland Security Department for $6.3 million and the Pentagon for $4.8 million. These three departments accounted for over half the administration’s total records in 2016.
The figures reflect the struggles of the Obama administration during the 2016 election to meet President Barack Obama’s pledge that it was “the most transparent administration in history,” despite wide recognition of serious problems coping with requests under the information law. It received a record 788,769 requests for files last year and spent a record $478 million answering them and employed 4,263 full-time FOIA employees across more than 100 federal departments and agencies. That was higher by 142 such employees the previous year.
It’s unclear yet how transparent the Trump Administration will be with the press and others seeking information, but one thing is pretty sure: It won’t be as bad as Barack Obama’s record.
It remains to be seen how transparent President Trump’s government will be with the media and other groups that demand information. It can only be sure that it won’t be as bad when Obama was in office. An Obama spokesperson didn’t react quickly to an email request for a remark on Monday. Obama’s White House frequently protected its attempts under the information law in the past several years, claiming federal workers carefully worked on such requests for records.
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