Jim Kouri
Transparency? Treasury Secretary hires firm to help coverup records
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By Jim Kouri
November 6, 2010

Following a political tsunami that gave control of the House of Representatives, increased GOP members of the U.S. Senate, and increased the number of Republican governors nationwide, President Barack Obama will be leaving the U.S. behind to schmooze with officials in a country that actually likes him.

One result of this upcoming trip is a "battle of op-eds" regarding the cost of Obama's lavish trip to places such as Mumbai, India. One estimate being touted is $200,000,000 per day. While Obama's defenders say that figure is wrong, they claim for national security reasons the White House will not release the amount of money to be spent on the President's trip.

Using that rationale, then disclosing the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the price tags of big-ticket weapons programs, and other costs associated with national security should not be disclosed. Apparently, running the most transparent administration in history was just a catchy campaign slogan for Barack Obama.

While the U.S. government doles out trillions of taxpayer dollars for bank bailouts and economic stimulus, the administration that promised unprecedented transparency has hired a private company to keep information about the exorbitant handouts secret, according to officials for a Washington, DC watchdog group.

According to officials at Judicial Watch, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner enlisted a consulting firm to screen public records requested through the federal law known as the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Analysts who will handle Treasury FOIA requests will have experience in the use of "exemptions to withhold information from release to the public."

To keep crucial Treasury records secret, the Obama Administration picked a firm (Phacil) that has given tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates and not a dime to Republicans. Earlier this year Phacil won a small-business award that was celebrated in a Rose Garden event with the president.

This marks the latest of many efforts by the administration to keep critical information about its monstrous bailouts and stimulus programs from Americans. For more than a year, the Treasury Department has blown off a news agency's request to identify $301 billion of Citigroup securities that the government agreed to guarantee. The media group requested the information on the grounds that taxpayers should know how their money is being used.

Since 2008, Judicial Watch has pursued documents regarding the unprecedented explosion in government's size and reach through its $24 trillion bank rescues, bailouts and fraud-infested economic stimulus plan. Judicial Watch has dozens of FOIA requests and lawsuits pending against the Treasury Department for failing to produce documents in several cases, including the scandalous $200 billion taxpayer bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and meetings between top Treasury officials and CEOs of major banks.

Last month Judicial Watch uncovered Treasury Department documents that revealed President Obama's "Special Master for TARP Executive Compensation" received a $120,830 annual salary to establish executive pay at companies bailed out by the federal government, even though the administration had assured the pay czar wouldn't be compensated for his work. It's a perfect example supporting the need to obtain records rather than take the word of government bureaucrats, Tom Fitton of Judicial Watch pointed out in a press statement.

© Jim Kouri

 

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Jim Kouri

Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police... (more)

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