All Out Agents,
But the way to make government responsible is not simply to enlist the services of responsible men and women or to assign laws that ensure that they never stray. The way to make Government responsible is to hold it accountable, and the way to make Government accountable, is to make it transparent so that the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they are being made, and whether their interests are being well served.
The directives I am giving my administration on how to interpret the freedom of information act will do just that. For a long time now there has been too much secrecy in this center. The old rules said if there was a defensible argument for not disclosing something to the American People, then it should not be disclosed.
That era is now over. Starting today, every agency and department should know that this administration stands on the side not of those who seek to withhold information, but those who seek to make it known. To be sure issues like personal privacy and national security must be treated with the care they demand. But the mere fact that you have the legal power to keep something secret does not mean you should always use it. Freedom of information act is perhaps the most powerful instrument we have for making our Government honest and transparent, and of holding it accountable.
And I expect members of my administration not simply to live up to the letter, but also the spirit of this law.
I will also hold myself as president to a new standard of openness, going forward any time the American people want to know something, that I or a former president wants to withhold, we will have to consult with the Attorney general and the white house counsel, whose business it is to insure compliance with the rule of law.
Information will not be withheld just because I say so; it will be withheld because a separate authority believes my request is well grounded in the constitution. Let me say it as simply as I can. Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.
TRANSPARENCY & THE RULE OF LAW SEO® R.O.L §10:4
“He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
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