Posted by Tina
In 2014 president Obama did a good thing. He signed the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments which for the first time authorized and required electronic records to be stored alongside paper records stored under the 1950 Federal Records Act. The legislation also updated requirements covering the “responsibilities of federal government officials when using non-government email systems” and empowered “the National Archives to safeguard original and classified records from unauthorized removal.” The Archivist was given “the final authority in determining just what is a government record.”
Despite this legislation the Obama administration, which claimed to be the most transparent in history, has been shown to destroy and disappear federal records. Thomas Lipscomb, writing at Real Clear Politics reports:
…the accumulation of recent congressional testimony has made it clear that the Obama administration itself engaged in the wholesale destruction and “loss” of tens of thousands of government records covered under the act as well as the intentional evasion of the government records recording system by engaging in private email exchanges. So far, former President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Lynch and several EPA officials have been named as offenders. The IRS suffered record “losses” as well. Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy called it “an unauthorized private communications system for official business for the patent purpose of defeating federal record-keeping and disclosure laws.”
Clearly, America’s National Archives is facing the first major challenge to its historic role in preserving the records of the United States. What good is the National Archives administering a presidential library, like the planned Obama library in Chicago, if it is missing critical records of interest to scholars? And what’s to prevent evasion of the entire federal records system by subsequent administrations to suit current politics rather than serve scholars for centuries to come?
This is a crisis of transparency that goes to the heart of American transparency. Put another way this is a blot on the integrity of the United States. It isn’t just about the corruption of a single president and his administration; it is about the reputation of the United states and her citizens. We the people want and deserve better! This is another reason that the ongoing investigations into the activities of the last administration and the ensuing presidential campaign must continue.