Obama Just Officially Decided White House Emails Aren’t Subject to the Freedom of Information Act

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrismar/3780790125/in/photolist-6L6xbD-9ranL3-6ha7oQ-cDzcLh-ngN63V-4fk8fV-cF6ZZy-9GeSHV-5L6eTK-5vNbG8-9pNQjS-8oXzNh-5SHJgg-cDzchw-cDzdv7-bfJctT-cF71dy-nYYeLR-cDz89Y-dtpe2z-6Awh6m-cF71VQ-cDzdRq-cDAdbQ-cDAcVG-cDAaVd-8BcQno-bY3AUW-6GCn3N-4kR3yn-cDzd8W-cDAezq-9z1tj5-78bXi6-5Tm92g-nfN3r5-cDzexY-828pqh-eB1zNa-8BcQpo-8LcFS8-aws9ax-cDz8nQ-cDAbbN-cDAcEN-4H1B1P-9a3hzW-6ffeD8-9RMhbf-mLajCz">Chris Martino</a>/Flickr

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Civil liberties advocates are adding another strike to the Obama administration’s record on transparency: on Monday, the White House announced that it is officially ending the Freedom of Information Act obligations of its Office of Administration. That office provides broad administrative support to the White House—including the archiving of emails—and had been subject to FOIA for much of its nearly four-decade history.

In 2007, the George W. Bush administration decided that its OA would reject any FOIA requests, freeing it from the burden to release emails regarding any number of Bush-era scandals. When President Obama took office in 2009, transparency advocates were hopeful that he’d strike down the Bush policy—especially after he claimed transparency would be a “touchstone” of his presidency. In a letter that year, advocates from dozens of organizations urged Obama to restore transparency to the OA.

He never did, and Monday’s move from the White House makes the long-standing policy official. Coincidentally, March 16th was Freedom of Information Day, and this week marks the annual Sunshine Week, which focuses on open government. 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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