In his first day in office, President Obama executed an Executive Order which he said was designed to increase transparency in government action and trust in government from American citizens — in sum, he claimed to liberalize the rules applicable to government responses to Freedom of Information requests. The administration touted this change, arguing that all too often government hides behind technicalities in refusing public disclosure of government information. It concluded that an appropriate government response would be to err on the side of disclosure in the event that it were a close call regarding the government’s obligation to publicly disclose material.
Now, it’s time to see if the administration means what it says. In the January 26, 2009 edition of National Review, in an article titled, Greg Craig and The Terrorist, columnist Byron York directs our attention to the man whose role inside the White House has been little publicized, but can not be understated – newly minted White House counsel, Mr. Gregory Craig. (In fact, Rush Limbaugh just today referred to Craig as our 44th President in light of his Gepetto-like choreography of the administration’s executive order agenda in its first two days.)
You see, Mr. Craig, who counts communists, Daniel Ortega and Fidel Castro, amongst those he has advised and counseled, has most recently been engaged as counsel for Panamanian national assemblyman, Pedro Miguel Gonzalez. It is believed by many on both sides of the aisle, and with substantial evidence in support, that Mr. Gonzalez is directly responsible for the 1992 murder of an American soldier, Army Sgt. Zak Hernandez, and the shooting of another soldier. Since 1992, Gonzalez has danced with an “Ali-esque” ease in avoiding any serious prosecution for these crimes – most recently with Craig’s assistance.
In his expose, York explores what Craig recently claimed to have done “to open up a path of communications” with the U.S. Justice Department, in assisting Gonzales. His first inquiry was directed at President Obama’s transition office – to wit: does Mr. Craig think that Mr. Gonzales is factually innocent? The transition office declined comment. Then, inquiry was made with the Justice Department directly, without much success – although it became apparent that Mr. Craig’s contacts may have been with the Office of International Affairs within the Criminal Division.
Now, this brings us full circle. Mr. York has just recently submitted a freedom of information request to the Office of International Affairs. The question remains whether President Obama’s declared inclination to err of the side of public disclosure of government information will adhere to requests made regarding the actions of one of his most senior advisors and his White House counsel.
President Obama, if you are serious about fighting terrorism and you are serious about prosecuting those who have wrongfully taken the lives of America’s finest, then I presume that Mr. York will have no trouble obtaining the information he seeks regarding Mr. Craig. After all, transparency in the actions of all whom serve your administration is in the public interest, particularly when it would involve the potential prosecution of an alleged murderer of a U.S. serviceman. Wouldn’t you agree, Mr. President?
I look forward to hearing that Mr. York’s request was responded to favorably. For some reason, however, I am cautioning myself to not hold my breath.