Obama Learns Newspeak: The Administration's Perversion of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

On October 30th, the Obama administration proposed an executive rule that will instruct government agencies to lie to the citizenry. The administration's proposal is a rule-change to the Freedom of Information Act: under the new policy, agencies would be instructed to tell citizens seeking prohibited documents not merely that the documents are not available, but that the documents do not exist at all. As my research assistant Daniel Schwartz and I show in our article on Forbes.com today, the implications of this seemingly insignificant bureaucratic decision are quite far-reaching, and make a veritable mockery of President Obama's supposed embrace of a new "era of openness" in government.

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Obama Crosses the Rubicon: The Killing of Anwar al-Awlaki

On September 30th predator drones flying out of a secret airbase in Yemen blew up a car carrying Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, American citizens allegedly involved with Al Qaeda.  While Khan was considered “collateral damage,” Awlaki was the main target and a man who, based upon the President’s word, had been placed onto an official kill list. On Forbes.com, Daniel Schwartz and I argue that the administration’s actions were highly troubling, as they represented a heretofore unimagined expansion of executive power. A presidential-ordered assassination of an American citizen, without the involvement of either of the other two branches of government, is a matter of profound consequence, regardless of the heinousness of the target. In a constitutional democracy, we argue, process matters.

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Boston Globe letter: Under Obama, war, and terror, go on

Responding to an extensive Boston Globe article on President Obama, I point out in a Letter-to-the-Editor published in today's Globe that the article's author erred in crediting Obama with rolling back President Bush's War on Terror. Far from it, in fact:

The national security state has continued to make gains under Obama, and it surely has kept the inroads it made under George W. Bush. Secrecy is the order of the day, including the administration’s self-protective invocation of so-called national security to thwart court cases seeking money damages and answers by victims of our security agencies and those they surreptitiously fund in dark corners around the world.


In terms of civil liberties, there may be some change on the margins here and there, but by and large, “change you can believe in’’ has shown its true colors: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

"Under Obama, war, and terror, go on," Boston Globe, January 31, 2011

[End of Post]

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Updates related to Harvey's
book Three Felonies a Day, a critical
take on the Justice Department

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