The Obama administration's early promise of unprecedented openness in government has borne some fruit, but some disappointment as well. That's the conclusion of a secrecy report card issued this week by Openthegovernment.org, a coalition of organizations that fight government secrecy.
"We all hoped for greater change than we have seen," said the coalition's Amy Bennett. "It's a big bureaucracy. It takes time to turn the ship. We're keeping our fingers crossed."
One one hand, the backlog in processing Freedom of Information Act requests has been reduced by 40 per cent since Barack Obama took office, and new decisions to classify documents have dropped by 10 percent, the report states. But on the other, declassifications dropped eight per cent, and the percentage of federal advisory committee hearings that were closed to the public increased from 65 to 73 per cent last year.
The assessment was issued Tuesday, just before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a ruling Wednesday that went along with the Obama administration's forceful invocation of of the state secrets privilege--inherited from the Bush administration--in a dispute over the Bush-era "extraordinary rendition" program.