Report- DOJ worst on transparency

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					Report- DOJ worst on transparency

There were more prosecutions of leaks in the last three years than all previous years
combined. | AP Photo

By TIM MAK | 2/15/12 1:20 PM EST

The Justice Department has been named the agency with the “worst open government
performance in 2011” by a watchdog group.

The National Security Archive, an Emmy- and George Polk Award-winning organization
based at George Washington University, designates a government agency each year as
being the worst about transparency and openness.

 “Justice edged out a crowded field of contending agencies and career officials who seem
in practical rebellion against President Obama’s open-government orders,” said Archive
Director Tom Blanton in a statement on Tuesday.

The annual Rosemary Award, named after Nixon secretary Rose Mary Woods, who
erased a part of a crucial Watergate tape, was awarded for several reasons.

In particular, the National Security Archive said the DOJ had been involved in “selective
and abusive prosecutions using espionage laws against whistleblowers as ostensible
‘leakers’ of classified information,” noting that there have been more prosecutions of
leaks in the last three years than all previous years combined.
While the National Security Archive conceded that the Justice Department had made
some progress on freedom of information, it pointed out that the DOJ used a
discretionary exemption to withhold information in Freedom of Information Act requests
1,500 times in 2011, up from 1,231 in 2010.

The National Security Archives also accused the DOJ of recycling legal arguments from
the Bush administration for greater departmental secrecy.

The Justice Department dismissed the analysis of the open watchdog group as being
“distant from the facts.”

“Anyone who knows anything about FOIA will tell you that the Department of Justice is
doing more than ever to promote openness and transparency under that Act. As a law
enforcement organization we must always strike the proper balance between First
Amendment freedoms and the strong law enforcement and national security interest in
investigating unauthorized disclosures of classified information,” a Justice Department
spokesperson told POLITICO. “Their analysis is really distant from the facts.”

Previous Rosemary Awards have gone to the Federal Chief Information Officers’
Council, the FBI, the CIA, the Air Force and the Treasury Department.

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