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Foggy Transparency

- November 15, 2013

President Obama: “My Administration Is Committed To Creating An Unprecedented Level Of Openness In Government.” (President Barack Obama, "Memorandum For The Heads Of Executive Departments And Agencies: Transparency and Open Government," Press Release, 1/21/09)

  • Obama: “This Administration Stands On The Side Not Of Those Who Seek To Withhold Information But Those Who Seek To Make It Known.” OBAMA: “The directives I am giving my administration today on how to interpret the Freedom of Information Act will do just that. For a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city. The old rules said that if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American people, then it should not be disclosed. That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information but those who seek to make it known.” (President Barack Obama, “Remarks By The President In Welcoming Senior Staff And Cabinet Secretaries To The White House,” Washington, DC, 1/21/09)

THE STATE DEPARTMENT REFUSES TO RELEASE OF ITS EMPLOYEES DURING HILLARY CLINTON’S TENURE

The State Department Has Refused To Release A List Of Its “Special Government Employees” To Open Government Group ProPublica.  “Take, for example, the tussle ProPublica, the online investigative organization, has been having with the State Department over a list of maybe 100 ‘special government employees’ (SGE) working there. (SGEs werecreated 50 years ago so experts with outside jobs could work part-time in government — with or without pay.)” (Al Kamen, “Obama Transparency Edict Gets Lost In The Fog,” The Washington Post, 11/15/13) 

  • Members Of Hillary Clinton’s Staff As Secretary Of State, Including Her Chief Of Staff And Huma Abedin, Would Be Included On The List. “This would include folks like former Hillary Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills, who we reported in August had been working as an SGE on Haiti matters. Other Clinton aides, such as Huma Abedin and Maggie Williams also were reported to have been working there as SGEs. So we’re down to 97.” (Al Kamen, “Obama Transparency Edict Gets Lost In The Fog,” The Washington Post, 11/15/13) 

“ProPublica’s  Justin Elliott And Liz Day Asked A Number Of Agencies To Send Lists Of Their SGEs. Many Readily Did. But Not The State Department.” (Al Kamen, “Obama Transparency Edict Gets Lost In The Fog,” The Washington Post, 11/15/13) 

  • The State Department Initially Refused To Comply With ProPublica’s FOIA Request Because They Claimed The List Didn’t Exist And Later That It Would Require “Extensive Research” To Come Up With A List Of Employees.  “In September, after ProPublica had filed a Freedom of Information Act  request in July for the names, state said no such list existed, the personnel folks don’t compile lists of SGEs, and putting together such a list would require  ‘extensive research’ so state didn’t have to respond under FOIA. Seriously, that’s what they said.” (Al Kamen, “Obama Transparency Edict Gets Lost In The Fog,” The Washington Post, 11/15/13) 
  • “Propublica Told State In Late September That They Were Going To Write About The Refusal. The Agency Then Said It Would Turn Over The Records In A Few Weeks. ;It’s Been Four Months Since The Original Request Was Filed,’ Propublica Said Yesterday.” (Al Kamen, “Obama Transparency Edict Gets Lost In The Fog,” The Washington Post, 11/15/13) 

 The Role Of Clinton Aide Huma Abedin Has Been A Source Of Controversy

“The Biggest Question Among Hillary’s Circle Concerns Huma Abedin,” Longtime Aide And Current Chief Of Clinton’s “Transition Office.” “The biggest question among Hillary’s circle concerns Huma Abedin, currently chief of Hillary’s ‘transition office’ and formerly her deputy chief of staff in the State Department. Abedin began as an intern for the First Lady in 1996, when she was 20 years old, and is, of course, married to former congressman and mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, of sexting infamy.” (Joe Hagan, “Hillary In Midair,” New York Magazine, 9/22/13)

Huma Abedin, A Top Aide To Secretary Hillary Clinton, Was Granted Approval To Take On Work For Private Clients While Serving At The State Department. “When news surfaced in May that the State Department had approved an arrangement that allowed Huma Abedin, a top adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, to take on work for private clients, officials at the department described it as nothing unusual. But three months later, questions about the arrangement persist, and the department has declined to provide some basic information about Ms. Abedin’s situation and those of other State Department employees who may have been given similar status.” (Raymond Hernandez, “Questions On The Dual Role Of A Clinton Aide Persist,” The New York Times, 8/18/13)

  • Abedin Was Granted Status As A “Special Government Employee” In June 2012 – An Arrangement That Allowed Her To Also Consult For Corporate Clients And The Clintons. “Ms. Abedin, 37, a confidante of Mrs. Clinton’s, was made a ‘special government employee’ in June 2012. That allowed her to continue her employment at State but also work for Teneo, a consulting firm, founded in part by a former aide to President Bill Clinton, that has a number of corporate clients, including Coca-Cola. In addition, Ms. Abedin worked privately for the Clinton Foundation and for Mrs. Clinton personally.” (Raymond Hernandez, “Questions On The Dual Role Of A Clinton Aide Persist,” The New York Times, 8/18/13)
  • “Ms. Abedin Has Not Disclosed How Much She Was Paid By Teneo, The Clinton Foundation Or Mrs. Clinton During This Period. She Resigned From State On Feb. 1.” (Raymond Hernandez, “Questions On The Role Of A Clinton Aide Persist,” The New York Times, 8/18/13)
  • “The State Department Has Declined To Say What Role Mrs. Clinton Played In Approving The Arrangement.” (Raymond Hernandez, “Questions On The Dual Role Of A Clinton Aide Persist,” The New York Times, 8/18/13)

Earlier This Year, The State Department Refused To Respond To Requests From The New York Times About The Title And Job Descriptions Of Any Other Employees Who Were Given The Title Of “Special Government Employee.” “In addition, The New York Times asked the State Department to provide the titles and job descriptions of other individuals the department has permitted to serve in the capacity of special government employee, and whether any of Mrs. Clinton’s other political appointees were given the special designation. The department has declined to do so, citing issues of employee confidentiality. ‘As a general policy, the Department of State does not disclose employee information of this nature,’ a department spokesman, Alec Gerlach, said.” (Raymond Hernandez, “Questions On The Role Of A Clinton Aide Persist,” The New York Times, 8/18/13)


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