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US cites security more to censor, deny records

March 17, 2014 • Business


FILE – This Oct. 14, 2013 file photo shows Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., walking through a corridor at the Capitol in Washington. Leahy said he’s “concerned the growing trend toward relying upon FOIA exemptions to withhold large swaths of government information is hindering the public’s right to know.” (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, according to a new analysis of federal data by The Associated Press.

The administration cited more legal exceptions it said justified withholding materials and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy. Most agencies also took longer to answer records requests, the analysis found.

The government’s own figures from 99 federal agencies covering six years show that half way through its second term, the administration has made few meaningful improvements in the way it releases records despite its promises from Day 1 to become the most transparent administration in history.

In category after category — except for reducing numbers of old requests and a slight increase in how often it waived copying fees — the government’s efforts to be more open about its activities last year were their worst since President Barack Obama took office.

In a year of intense public interest over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times — a 57 Login to read more

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