Obama’s Administration Is Rewriting the First Amendment in Plain Sight



President Obama is limiting our free speech and hiding his government activities from the American people by completely politicizing the FOIA process and suppressing the media.

New York Times reporter James Risen, speaking at a Sources and Secrets conference in New York city on Friday said that press freedom is under serious attack. He is currently fighting a fierce battle with the Administration to protect his sources.

He said the Obama administration is “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” He added that anyone who doesn’t cooperate with the White House controlling the flow of information “will be punished,” the Daily Caller reported.

The Associated Press (AP), not exactly a right wing news gathering service, reported on March 17th that the administration censored, delayed or denied access to government files requested under the Freedom of Information Act using legal exceptions.

Last year was Obama’s worst.

From the AP:

“…the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times – a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama’s first year, when it cited that reason 3,658 times. The Defense Department, including the NSA, and the CIA accounted for nearly all those. The Agriculture Department’s Farm Service Agency cited national security six times, the Environmental Protection Agency did twice and the National Park Service once.

And five years after Obama directed agencies to less frequently invoke a “deliberative process” exception to withhold materials describing decision-making behind the scenes, the government did it anyway, a record 81,752 times.”

Thirty-six percent of all cases were denied outright.

“Obama is the sixth administration that’s been in office since I’ve been doing Freedom of Information Act work. … It’s kind of shocking to me to say this, but of the six, this administration is the worst on FOIA issues. The worst. There’s just no question about it,” said Katherine Meyer, a Washington lawyer who’s been filing FOIA cases since 1978. “This administration is raising one barrier after another. … It’s gotten to the point where I’m stunned — I’m really stunned.” The quote comes from a Politico article.

Open government groups say that administration lawyers are aggressively fighting FOIA requests at the agency level and in court — sometimes on Obama’s direct orders. They’ve also wielded anti-transparency arguments even bolder than those asserted by the Bush administration, Politico reported earlier this month.

In a jaw-dropping move, a Justice Department lawyer told the Supreme Court last year that the administration disagrees with decades of court rulings that exceptions to FOIA should be “narrowly construed” because of the law’s presumption in favor of transparency. The White House does not agree with long-established Supreme Court precedent favoring disclosure.

“We do not embrace that principle,” Assistant Solicitor General Anthony Yang told a stunned Justice Antonin Scalia.

According to Cause of Action, a policy watchdog, the White House counsel is now demanding to receive, review and have access to information they previously had no review over.

It began witha memo:

“White House equities” does not exist in law, regulation, or directives, but is suddenly being used by this White House and nonchalantly presented as an ordinary occurrence that somehow has a history.

Socialist Sen. Patrick Leahy said this: “I’m concerned the growing trend toward relying upon FOIA exemptions to withhold large swaths of government information is hindering the public’s right to know. It becomes too much of a temptation. If you screw up in government, just mark it `top secret.'”

On CNN’s The Lead, host Jake Tapper asserted to Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post that “the Obama administration has used the Espionage Act to go after whistleblowers who leaked to journalists … more than all previous administrations combined.” There have been seven so far, enough to send a chill down the spines of reporters, particularly after the AP, Risen and Rosen scandals.

Mr. Obama bars reporters from meetings with foreign leaders and releases only photos he approves through his White House.

The presidents of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Associated Press Media Editors told members to stop taking the photos and videos handed out by the White House because it amounts to propaganda. The independent press – independent of the White House – is being shut out.

First Lady Michelle Obama, her daughters and her mom have taken a diplomatic/vacation tour to China with a ban on questions from the press. Her press corp has been blocked from events, screamed at by officials and detained with red tape. The NY Times pool report about her tour of Xi’an: “Event below marred for press by obnoxious Chinese advance man screaming and shoving us behind his ever moving red tape line,” said the report.

When she discussed education with Chinese educators, parents and students, reporters were rushed out. Read more about it at the Washington Examiner.

Why is she allowing this? She announced that reporters would not be permitted questions before she even left for the trip on our tax dollars.

President Obama pushed for the DISCLOSE Act which would have required all people or organizations bidding for government contracts to disclose all political expenditures and electioneering communications. It was supposedly for  “anti-corruption” and “transparency” purposes but it would actually result in greater potential for corruption and abuse. The government officials who grant the contracts would know who made political donations to whom and for what causes. 

The White House has repeatedly stonewalled over Fast & Furious, Benghazi, the AP scandal, the sue and settle cases brought to the fore by Sen. Vitter, and the lack of transparency over the genetically altered fish. The nontransparent White House is doing whatever it wants.

There is no shortage of examples of this White House shutting down free speech. Remember Lisa Jackson’s fake emails and private emails?

Recall the most recent attempted abridgment of the free press when the Obama Administration’s Federal Communications Commission planned to send government contractors into the nation’s newsrooms to determine whether journalists are producing articles, television reports, Internet content, and commentary that meets the public’s “critical information needs.” Those “needs” will be defined by the administration, and news outlets that do not comply with the government’s standards could face unknown consequences. That has not been abandoned, only delayed because of the furor it caused.

David Sanger, the New York Times’ Washington bureau chief, said recently, “This is the most closed, control-freak administration I’ve ever covered.”

Jennifer Rubin at The Washington Post referenced several stories of bullying by the White House in one of her columns. Rubin wrote that reporters Woodward, Founier, and others were all beaten down with verbal threats and abusive language by White House officials. She mentioned one case that concerned Lanny Davis.

Lanny Davis, a serious liberal, wrote something in The Washington Times that displeased the Obama Administration. John Solomon, the editor at the Washington Times, received a phone call threatening to remove the newspaper’s White House credentials unless Lanny Davis’ column was discontinued.”

Carl Cannon, a longtime political journalist who is the Washington editor of the Web site Real Clear Politics, says he recently got zinged. After his site posted a headline and video of President Obama promoting a political fundraising raffle at the White House in June — which Republicans said could be a violation of campaign-finance law — Cannon heard about it in no uncertain terms. A deputy press official let loose “a screaming, profane diatribe that lasted two or three phone calls,” Cannon recalled. “It hurt my ear.”

Wall Street Journal editor and columnist Dan Henninger wrote, “Mr. Obama’s partners are concluding that they cannot do business with him.  They don’t trust him.  Whether it’s the Saudis, the Syrian rebels, the French, the Iraqis, the unpivoted Asians or the congressional Republicans, they’ve all had their fill of coming up on the short end with so mercurial a U.S. president.  And when that happens, the world’s important business doesn’t get done.”

American citizens can’t trust him either. He is not transparent because he is hiding things of public interest from the public. He is launching terror-campaigns against reporters and right-wing citizens. He is hiding what he is doing and what we see him doing is bad for our country. Once we lose our freedoms we will never get them back.

Our media is complaining but in a very docile manner.  The press is supposed to be watchdogs over government not lapdogs. Aside from their natural predisposition towards his liberal thinking, Obama has wined, dined and threatened them into silence.