President Barack Obama once promised that his administration would be the most transparent in history, and his White House laughably continues to tout its commitment to government transparency. With the breaking news that his Department of Justice has secretly seized the private phone records of Associated Press reporters, the Obama administration continues to reveal itself as one of the most opaque administrations in recent history.
In the wake of the Benghazi controversy and the revelation that the IRS targeted conservative groups, and only months after Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) led a filibuster demanding more transparency in the administration's decisions to assassinate American citizens with drones, the Associated Press revealed on Monday that the Obama administration secretly seized the telephone records of Associated Press offices and reporters for a two-month period in 2012. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, AP CEO Gary Pruitt described the situation as a "massive and unprecedented intrusion by the Department of Justice into the newsgathering activities of The Associated Press. There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters."
The news has drawn outrage from members of the media and has added more fuel to growing discontent with the Obama administration's complete lack of transparency. The GOP-led House of Representatives has promised a full investigation and the ACLU has condemned the intrusion. Left, Right, and Center vented on Twitter:
The media and the American people are right to be upset by this. The nature of this White House reeks of Nixonian arrogance with every passing controversy. From Fast and Furious to Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki, from Libya to electronic surveillance of Americans, from the IRS persecuting conservatives to this mess with the Associated Press, the administration of Barack Obama has consistently been one of the murkiest in recent memory. It is an administration that has claimed the power to kill American citizens without judicial review, to wage war without congressional consent, to prosecute whistle blowers more than any of its predecessors, and to be so combative to the press as to illegally steal the private information of journalists.
The administration of Barack Obama has been a disaster for civil liberties, and it is high time for the president and his government to change their tune. The administration should comply with congressional investigations and take steps to ensure greater transparency to the American public into its actions and decision-making processes. Democratic and Republican should demand that the executive branch be reigned in before too many bad precedents are set for future claims to executive power. This has to stop.