Wednesday June 19, 2013
Transparency or Transparent LiesDr. Paul Balles Salem-News.com
A basic tenet of a healthy democracy is open dialogue and transparency. --Peter Fenn
(MANAMA, Bahrain) - Do you remember when President Obama called for an unprecedented level of openness in Government?
"We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration," promised the president.
When Obama appointed Yong Kim as President of the World Bank, he praised the selection process for being transparent.
In January, one headline boasted that the "Drilling Industry Responds to Obama's Call for Transparency."
Another headline read, "Obama campaign renews a call for transparency after a report shows Mitt Romney hiding assets from the public."
In April, The Obama administration refused to disclose internal documents and other sources of requested information to a congressional committee.
In May, another report praised President Obama's calls for earmark transparency when funds are approved to be spent on specific projects.
Again in May, "critics say Obama's transparency pledge has fallen flat.... Such a transparent man who only wants to know your every phone call and internet."
Also in May, Politico reporter Josh Gerstein commented that "President Barack Obama set a high bar for open government."
Gerstein added, "A minute after he took office, the White House website declared his administration would become 'the most open and transparent in history.'
"By the end of his first full day on the job, Obama had issued high-profile orders pledging 'a new era' and 'an unprecedented level of openness' across the massive federal government."
Gerstein who has been involved in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) work through six presidencies, reports that the Obama administration has the worst FOAI record. The worst!
"The administration has embarked on an unprecedented wave of prosecutions of whistle blowers and alleged leakers."
The role of the Justice Department in locking up Bradley Manning for whistle blowing is a case in point.
The same executive branch under Obama is after Assange for publishing the information supplied by Manning to Wikileaks.
Whether Obama had intentions that he later discovered he could not fulfil or his political promises were merely seeking favourable public responses is unknown.
When reporters have tried to get classified information about the treatment of prisoners, Obama stopped it since photos of torture getting out might result in a backlash.
The fear of a backlash resulting from open reporting is an admission that the actions are criminally punishable.
Irish politician Gerry Adams aptly pointed out, "One man's transparency is another's humiliation."
Illegitimate cover-ups have become standard fare for an administration that promised transparency according to Spencer Ackerman of Wired:
A congressional committee just found Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of court for withholding documents and communications related to an investigation conducted by the Justice Department.
Jurgen Habermas, author of The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere wrote:
In the West, the idea that government should be open to public scrutiny and susceptible to public opinion dates back at least to the time of the Enlightenment, when many philosophers made an attack on absolutist doctrine of state secrecy, a core part of their intellectual project.
Open government is widely seen as a hallmark of contemporary democratic practice and is often linked to the passing of freedom of information legislation.
Often only a few people can get access to information. Comments TV host and journalist Anderson Cooper, "I think it's a good thing that there are bloggers out there watching very closely and holding people accountable."
One of the praiseworthy things about the internet, androids and iPods: they increase transparency in news gathering.
Throughout his life as an educator, Dr. Paul J. Balles, a retired American university professor and freelance writer, has lived and worked in the Middle East for 40 years - first as an English professor (Universities of Kuwait and Bahrain), and for the past ten years as a writer, editor and editorial consultant.
He’s a weekly Op-Ed columnist for the GULF DAILY NEWS . Dr. Balles is also Editorial Consultant for Red House Marketing and a regular contributor to Bahrain This Month. He writes a weekly op-ed column for Akbar Al Khaleej (Arabic). He has also edited seven websites, including bahrainthismonth.com, womenthismonth.com
Paul has had more than 350 articles published, focusing on companies, personality profiles, entrpreneurs, women achievers, journalists and the media, the Middle East, American politics, the Internet and the Web, consumer reports, Arabs, diplomats, dining out and travel. Paul's articles on Salem-News.com are frank and enlightening. We are very appreciative of the incredible writings Dr. Balles has generated for our readers over the years, and we are very pleased to list him among our most valued contributors.
Indulging the hard subjects that keep the world divided is our specialty at Salem-News.com, and with writers like Dr. Paul Balles on our team, we amplify our ability to meet challenges and someday, will see the effects of this exist in context with a more peaceful and generally successful world.
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