Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Put nothing in writing, ever.

Posted by Ed C on Wednesday, July 8, 2009

President Obama released a memorandum on January 21st, 2009 for the heads of executive departments and agencies titled “Transparency and Open Government”“.  It opens with the following paragraph:

My Administration is committed to creating 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. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.

So how does Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, show her commitment to this “unprecedented level of openness?”  According to Representative James Sensenbrenner, R-WI (from the Washington Examiner) in a July 8th letter to Edward Markey, Chairman, House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming:

I initially raised these concerns in a letter to you and Congressman Towns dated June 9, 2009.1 In that letter I cited two incidents. First, Mary Nichols, the head of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), revealed that the White House had held a series of secret meetings as they were crafting the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Nichols admitted that there was a deliberate “vow of silence” surrounding the negotiations with the White House on vehicle fuel standards.2 According to Nichols, “[Carol] Browner [Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change] quietly orchestrated private discussions from the White House with auto industry officials.” Negotiators were instructed to “put nothing in writing, ever.” Clearly, Browner’s actions were intended to leave little to no documentation of the deliberations that lead to stringent new CAFE standards.  [emphasis mine]

That certainly is going to make will make it harder for the Obama administration to implement this part of the Transparency and Open Government memorandum:

My Administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public.

Maybe I just misinterpreted what President Obama meant when he said “unprecedented level of openness.”  I assumed that he meant more openness, but apparently, at least to Carol Browner, he really meant less.

(First heard on the Mark Levine show)

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2 Responses to “Put nothing in writing, ever.”

  1. cindy vaillancourt said

    The really sad thing is that “unprecedented level of openness” may well be an accurate description…. it’s just that previous administrations (of both parties) had such terrible problems with “openness and transparency” that anything would be an “unprecedented” improvement.

    The realist in me understands that “total” openness and “total” transparency is neither possible or perhaps wise … but the idealist is hoping that we don’t get too many semantics games over the definition of “it”.

    cindy v

  2. PZGURU said

    Of course Obama was lying! That’s what he’s done his entire, albeit short, political career. He has consistently said one thing publicly and then done the complete opposite in private, behind closed doors. I’m not surprised by any of this, although many people who fell under his spell and voted for him may be, no make that SHOULD be, a little upset by his utter disregard for living up to all of his (shallow) campaign promises.

    He says publicly, I don’t want to own the car dealers. Reality = the US now is a majority owner in GM.

    He says he wants bipartisanship. Reality = he only wants to talk to people who support unconditionally all of his ideas and initiatives.

    Every time this guy moves his lips, take caution, because he’s probably LYING. Sorry, but this guy makes Clinton look like an “Honest Abe”.

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