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Obama administration improves openness

  Political and Legal  -   POSTED: 2009/09/08 12:35

President Barack Obama's policies on secrecy get higher grades for openness than those of President George W. Bush, yet there's still room for improvement, says a coalition of public interest groups.

In a report issued Tuesday, the coalition says the new administration has made major strides toward more disclosure, including the recent release of Justice Department memos on Bush administration interrogation policies and Obama's embrace of greater openness under the Freedom of Information Act.

The report noted, however, that the government has resisted release of photos from Army interrogation investigations; has not backed away from occasional use of the state secrets privilege; and has argued in court for secrecy regarding the role of former Vice President Dick Cheney in the Valerie Plame affair.

The country elected a president who promises the most open, transparent and accountable executive branch in history and "the record to date is mixed," says the report by OpenTheGovernment.org, a group of 75 public interest groups.

Open government advocates are concerned that much of the Obama administration's review of disclosure issues is taking place in secret.

For example, an interagency government task force is delving into the issue of unclassified information that the government nonetheless keeps under wraps by designating it as "controlled unclassified information," or CUI.


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