By Michael Doyle McClatchy, Washington Bureau, Miami Herald
In a Freedom of Information Act victory, a federal judge has slapped the Obama administration for its secretive ways and ordered officials to turn over a bland-sounding foreign policy document.
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Chastising what she called “the government’s unwarranted expansion of the presidential communications privilege at the expense of the public’s interest in disclosure,” U.S. District Judge Ellen Seal Huvelle ruled the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development is not exempt from FOIA.
Judge Huvelle’s 20-page decision took a shot or two, or three, at the Obama administration’s penchant for secrecy.
“The government appears to adopt the cavalier attitude that the President should be permitted to convey orders throughout the Executive Branch without public oversight, to engage in what is in effect governance by ‘secret law,'” Huvelle wrote.
The Center for Effective Government, formerly known as OMB Watch, filed a FOIA request in 2011 for the document. It is not classified, and has been widely distributed within executive agencies. The Obama administration nonetheless sought to keep the document to itself, claiming an executive communication privilege under FOIA.
This is an important case; as Huvelle noted, it’s the first time an administration sought to apply the executive communication privilege to an executive directive. The administration’s legal posture, Huvelle declared at various time, was “limitless” and “unbounded.”
With this administration who has pulled out all the stops to take away our privacy rights, I find this story appalling! There are centers erected all over the United States to spy on law abiding citizens’ phone calls, email, blogs, health records, voting records, religious beliefs and everything and anything yet we are not to question any policy decision made by this President! I admire the courage of District Judge Ellen Seal Huvelle to make this decision where she will probably now face much scrutiny.
Are there other judges and legislators willing to make the right decisions? I pray there are because justice restrained always opens the door to tyranny!