back to article Obama insists on FOI

New US president Barack Obama has ordered government agencies to release more information under that country's Freedom of Information Act, reversing the previous administration's policy of withholding information. The US president has ordered government departments and agencies to presume that information should be released to …


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  1. It wasnt me


    Well done America. That is a fine example of a healthy democracy, when a leader acknowledges that gummint is there to serve the people.

    If only.....

    The problem in the UK is that none of the parties sees themselves as out servants. And none of them are accountable. No election is going to change that. Its really a case of democracy is dead. We get a vote, but all the parties stand for the same thing.

    Sad really, but Im happy for the merkins for once.

  2. hikaricore

    Our new puppet.

    Shining on the first day is impressive.

    However I won't be convinced until he pulls something off like this at least every week.

  3. Ash
    Thumb Up

    I have a name for this campaign.

    Operation Shock and Awe.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Are you reading this?

  5. Ross Luker
    Thumb Up

    Nice one

    Can we send a copy of this to Wacky Jacqui? Not that she'd do anything but "carefully consider" the idea, but still...

  6. Steve
    Thumb Up

    Not very nuLab friendly

    Blimey! New broom and all that! Very definitely not very nuLab friendly though is he? Pretty much everything he's done in just two days seems to go against the instincts of Gordon and his mob.

  7. Jerome

    Yeah, right

    "a new era in government accountability"?

    This is the guy who had the musicians miming at his inauguration? I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Гласность товарищ

    When was the last time a president promised openness? I hope it works out better this time.

  9. Cameron Colley

    As Bill Hicks may ask...

    How long before they show him the unreleased tape of the Kennedy assassination..?

  10. Random Noise


    If only McKinnon had waited. He could have just put in a FOI request to find out the aliens have visited New Mexico.

  11. Hollerith

    servants of whom?

    All civil servants and MPS are surely servants of HM the Queen, given that they work for Her Majesty's Parliament, where the Prime Minister is, in structure, her first servant? We need a '' site, where MPs and gov't workers can accept suggestions from the public and bin them, as they do now, but with ideological backing.

  12. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    What the bloody hell is going on in politics.

    First we had Boris, who comes in with the impression that he's the buffoon that you saw on Have I Got News For You, and immediately it's congestion-charge-backdown, no-yobs-on-public-trains, *paying* a parking fine that he got (with the sentiment "I'm an idiot and I've paid for it" rather than "I'm super-politician, I shouldn't HAVE to pay") and his latest one "Bugger off government, we don't want no steenking third runway". And, as of yet, no major cockups.

    Then the yanks get Obama who within a day starts work on scrapping their illegal torture-fest and telling government to pull its finger out and be more open (even with a nod towards open source if you read some articles).

    It's getting incredibly scary... after 11 years of not voting at all because of the problems highlighted by "It wasn't me"'s comment above (i.e. it doesn't matter who you vote for if you don't trust any of them), I'm now finding honest politicians creeping out of the woodwork who not only "promise" things but within days of being in power are actually doing something about them.

    Have people actually woken up to the fact that a politician should bloody do what they promise and are they to actually do things, rather than hunt-the-scapegoat. It's almost enough to make you want to vote. I'll leave it until I've seen a good year of honest toil out of the people in question but it does make you want to say "where the hell have you been for the last four hundred years?".

  13. Anonymous Coward


    Obama has to watch out, he appears to be keeping to his promises/principles and this could be worrying. How's he going to deal with Mrs Clinton who managed to tell verifiable lies in her campaign?

  14. James

    "Its English but not as we know it, Jacqui..."

    "Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public,"

    How many politicians and government agencies in the UK will be able to understand these concepts?

    I suspect that, although this is in the English language, it'll come across as complete gobbeldy-gook to the "powers that be".

  15. Anonymous Coward

    @ yeah, right

    Look at it like this, they've just taken place in the worlds most publicised Air Orchestra event! Shame the press coverage for the Air Guitar championships wasn't as big :(

  16. John Bayly
    Thumb Up

    Shows how much of a cynic I am...

    I read the title, and assumed he'd gone back on his pledges. I suppose I'm just conditioned to believe that all politicians are cheats and liars.

    This man appears to be doing his best to persuade us otherwise. It's not only the public, but politicians that should be looking to him as their saviour.

    Have to agree with previous posts, UK Gov have aped Bush to help themselves, will they ape Obama to help us? <Looks out window to check for low altitude pigs)

  17. Emo


    Ok lets hear about Roswell then.

  18. lansalot


    "This is the guy who had the musicians miming at his inauguration? I wouldn't trust him as far as I could throw him."


    Indeed. At least you (didn't) know where you were with Bush, and you were happy in that ignorance. Imagine - miming musicians ! What's the world coming to ! I'm sure it was by presidential order that the deception took place... Is it too late to get Bush back in ?


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Roswell was a carefully orchestrated hoax aimed at tricking the aliens into thinking they'd already landed and had been infected with a deadly virus, leading to them staying off our planet.

  20. Shakje

    Re: FOIA

    You already have, it was disclosed in the government documentary entitled "Roswell High"

  21. Secretgeek
    Paris Hilton


    ...sorry, what's going on?

    Real openess being promoted by the bod in chief?

    Ok, I designate today as 'It's officially weird.' day.

    Something doesn't feel right. Have I simply got too used to the 'Hide, deny, twist, spin and lie tactics.' employed by gov on this side of the pond?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Dear Mr. Obama - Here is my first FOI request

    Dear Mr. Obama - Here is my first FOI request. Please tell me which part of the US constitution is it that proves the federal state as a right to charge me income tax and that I must pay it.


    Average American (or Jo Schmo - as they would say over there)

    Paris - because I always choose that icon

  23. Anonymous Coward


    Any chance we can poach this guy in eight years time??! :-o

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    ....and the cynics said nothing would change

    In power for less than a week and already Guantanamo camps are to be closed, barricades to stem cell research have been lifted and now this.

    Keep it up Obama.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    ... by, for, and of the people...?

    Well, that's what Mr. Lincoln said about our government, but it's not as if it's in our Constitution. (Note that it _is_ in the French Constitution

    Perhaps I don't remember my history well enough, but I don't recall that the Magna Carta had a lot to say about the rights of non-aristocrats. Beyond that what guarantees are there that government in the UK is for the people?

    Just curious.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good job!

    Good luck Obama!

  27. Anonymous Coward


    "Operation Shock and Awe."

    Seconded sir. Remember how the young Tony Blair was thought to be hip and cool when he first became PM?

    Like a Windows Service Pack, lets wait awhile until some serious testing has been done before buying in.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    by the people..

    In the UK we dont trust the writen word, we prefer to muake up the rules as we go along. And if anyone thinks they are god, of with there heads.

  29. Jerome

    @ Lee Dowling

    That's all very nice that the Americans have Obama, and the Londoners have (ahem) Boris Johnson. However, for those of us who live in neither the USA nor London, who would you suggest I vote for at the next U.K. general election in order to get some of this new political integrity for myself?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Just vote for the UK Independence party. They are the fourth biggest party in the UK (after lib-lobs)

    Their first policy is to halt the creation of a European federal state.

    They aren't anti-European - just against the idea of a corrupt and un-accountable political union of untouchable senior European politicians. Now, actually, most people would agree that was a good thing!

    Their second policy is the pursuit of Direct Democracy. This is all about allowing the people to decide how they want to be governed and to make and debate their own laws. This is true democracy. What we have at the moment and what we all complain about is called 'Representative Democracy' That is where we elect the group of Politian’s (i.e. Labour party) who we believe best represent our views and allow them to make decisions on our behalf. This actually isn't working - so now we should be looking to move to Direct Democracy - this is real progress. The UK Independence party offer a real alternative to the Status Quo and because they are not pushing anything too radical it would be possible to vote for them without feeling like a plonker. Of course this speech would be entirely meaningless if I were endorsing the BNP or the Green Party... The UK Independence party is a group of sensible folk with moderate ideas and hopefully they'll overtake and jump up to third-biggest party when commie-Gordon finally gives in and calls an election.

  31. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    Yeah, this is the problem with the rarity of the "honest politician".

    You can do exactly what I've done every year... vote for the person you think would represent your views and make a difference. That's led to me *not* voting at all since I was eligible. I very much doubt I'm the only one doing this, considering the turnout at the average election and particularly the proportion of less-than-middle-aged people who vote. In a choice between two evils, I just don't choose - it's the only sensible option when it is available (although I'm sure the UK are working on Australia-like rules where you MUST vote - I would have to tick box 1 on year 1, box 2 on year 2, box 3 on year 3, etc. in those circumstances, or flip a coin).

    I have chosen to use my freedom to vote for whoever I want to, to vote for ***ME***. ***I*** can perfectly represent my views, ***I*** would do exactly what I want a politician to do and only ***I*** can do it in the way I want. Thus, in the absence of a vote for myself (because apparently democracy doesn't allow that in general - I can't vote myself to be prime minister at the next election, I have to tick one of these boxes to select someone I've never met) I will vote for the next nearest candidate which is... erm... nobody. Problem solved. I might not be helping the next great person to power but equally I'm not electing the next Hitler, either. I consider that an all-ways-win for my country, given the current state of politics.

    P.S. Laugh at old Boris all you want... he's London Mayor and he's doing a bloody good job considering. I don't even know or care what political party he's supposed to represent (a politician is a politician no matter what colour you paint him), all I know is he's made some very good decisions from my point of view and no major cock-ups.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I would seriously suggest voting lib dem for one simple reason.

    No they can't win, that's part of the point. Read on please.

    Shortly after the next election the economy will recover a great deal. If one party wins overall they will insist that it's because they won, people will fall for it, their majority will go sky-high and in 8-10 years they'll also have gone batshit crazy and be trying to screw the people.

    If there's a hung government from enough people voting Lib Dem, then not only can no party claim responsibility for the recovery but we get the next few elections with people realising that the sun does not shine out of one party's arse and that they can vote based on issues instead.

    Finally, we make it clear that the bastards have to work for our votes. And we know how little politicians like working.

  33. Chris Pearson

    @Lee Dowling

    In Oz there's an awful lot of spoilt ballots if my friends who live there anything to go by. So in place of "none of these idiots" you tick every box, or draw a nice picture of a phallus etc.

  34. Eddy Ito
    Black Helicopters

    Beware the ides of March

    and those departments who like to keep their secrecy intact. We already know that Oswald killed Kennedy because someone had to, that may have to be enough.

    That said, being stuck in that snake pit for the next four years the question will be does Obama get bitten or make like St. Patrick? If he gets bitten, is it like zombies and he turns into one or does he just die like JFK?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Mycho

    Me again.

    "I would seriously suggest voting lib dem"

    Is that supposed to be ironic? What planet are you on? When has any lib dem voter ever been in a position to make a to make a serious recommendation?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Please read my post. Voting for a hung government this time around is a sound choice. Given the inevitable recovery and how it will be spun we're facing 12 years of whoever gets overall control this time around. Better this election give no overall control.

  37. Daniel

    Re: Dear Mr. Obama - Here is my first FOI request

    16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

    The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States and without regard to any census or enumeration.

  38. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Baby Steps Belie Giant Strides and Quantum Leaps.

    Who was it who said that most politicians were just wannabe unbelievably bad actors unemployable in any role demanding of unique skills displaying unimpeachable integrity. Seems like Barack is determined to prove that there's a new Kid in Town who practises what he preaches so acting Believably is QuITe Natural to him.

    Nice One, Barack. An Obvious Fan of the KISS School of No Doubt and Stealthy Clout. Don't keep yourself Alienated though in the White House Cocoon, for that would be no more Effectiven nor Engaging in the Wider World, than a Closed Knocking Shop.

  39. Frumious Bandersnatch
    Black Helicopters


    One wonders whether the British gubmit got wind that this was coming down the line, causing Brown and Smith to back off on making MP's expenses exempt from FOI requests (for now)?

  40. Greg Trocchia

    @AC (Dear Mr. Obama - Here is my first FOI request )

    >>Please tell me which part of the US constitution is it that proves the federal state as a right to charge me income tax and that I must pay it.<<

    Here is the part you were asking about:

  41. theyellowbear

    Good News!

    The first thing that I would like to see is your ORIGINAL BIRTH CERTIFICATE!

  42. NB
    Paris Hilton

    @Chris Pearson

    nice idea in principle but in the UK it's utterly pointless. Spoilt ballots are simply ignored and have no effect whatsoever on the overall result. Personally I'd like to see election by Proportional Representation. This would create a more balanced parliament and give the smaller parties a chance whilst forcing whoever does form a government to have to negotiate with other parties to get legislation through. One would only hope there'd be a little more accountability too. </wishful thinking>

    Paris, cos I'd fill her ballot any day.

  43. kain preacher


    let see yours. Alot of people don't have their original birth certificate. I don't but I have copy issued from my county. But are saying a copy from the county is not valid ?? Pull your head out of your ass . He has already shown the world his birth certificate,

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good luck, Obama

    Closing a useless concentration camp is easy compared to this.

    He will, no doubt, meet his "civil servant" like the British Prime Minister in that very well made television show. But without trying you cannot win anyway.

    And, Obama, rather do something in four years than nothing in eight.

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