It hasn’t been limited to the Obama administration and it’s really catching on. Transparency just isn’t working out anymore. Things run much more smoothly after a good, old-fashioned cover-up. This attitude is becoming more popular all over the world.
President Obama’s transition from transparency to opacity became obvious last summer, in his discussion about the catastrophe in the Gulf of Corexit. Here’s how I discussed this situation on August 26, 2010:
Consider what our President said on August 4th:
“A report out today by our scientists shows that the vast majority of the spilled oil has been dispersed or removed from the water,” Obama said.
Beth Daley of the Boston Globe gave us another example of what our government told us about all that oil:
Earlier this month, Jane Lubchenco, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief, declared that “at least 50 percent of the oil that was released is now completely gone from the system, and most of the remainder is degrading rapidly or is being removed from the beaches.”
On August 20, we learned about the falsity of the government’s claims that the oil had magically disappeared. The Washington Post put it this way:
Academic scientists are challenging the Obama administration’s assertion that most of BP’s oil in the Gulf of Mexico is either gone or rapidly disappearing — with one group Thursday announcing the discovery of a 22-mile “plume” of oil that shows little sign of vanishing.
After the Fukushima earthquake and nuclear power plant disaster in March, I immediately became suspicious about the lack of transparency concerning that crisis:
A good deal of the frustration experienced by those attempting to ascertain the status of the potential nuclear hazards at Fukushima, was obviously due to the control over information flow exercised by the Japanese government. I began to suspect that President Obama might have dispatched a team of Truth Suppressors from the Gulf of Corexit to assist the Japanese government with spin control.
More recently, Vivian Norris reported on what she has learned about the extent of radioactive contamination resulting from the Fukushima events in the Huffington Post. In the middle of the piece, she took a step back and shared a reaction that many of us were experiencing:
Why is this not on the front page of every single newspaper in the world? Why are official agencies not measuring from many places around the world and reporting on what is going on in terms of contamination every single day since this disaster happened? Radioactivity has been being released now for almost two full months! Even small amounts when released continuously, and in fact especially continuous exposure to small amounts of radioactivity, can cause all kinds of increases in cancers.
In the United States, the EPA has apparently become so concerned that the plume of radioactivity may have contaminated fish, which are being caught off the Pacific coast and served-up at our fine restaurants – that the agency has decided to cut back on radiation monitoring. That’s right. Thorough radiation testing of water and fish causes too much transparency – and that’s bad for business. Susanne Rust of California Watch discussed the reaction this news elicited from a group called Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Public Employees – uh-oh!):
The EPA and the Food and Drug Administration increased their radiation monitoring efforts after a massive earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan set off the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
But on May 3, the EPA announced [PDF] in a press release that it was falling back to a business-as-usual schedule of radiation monitoring, citing “consistently decreasing radiation levels.”
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“With the Japanese nuclear situation still out of control and expected to continue that way for months and with elevated radioactivity continuing to show up in the U.S., it is inexplicable that EPA would shut down its Fukushima radiation monitoring effort,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of the watchdog group, in a statement.
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According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the EPA has proposed raising their guideline radiation limits, or Protection Action Guides. These values are used to guide decision makers about when a clean up is needed after a nuclear incident.
According to Ruch, the new clean up standards are “thousands of times more lax than anything the EPA has ever before accepted.”
Documents obtained by the watchdog group [PDF] via the Freedom of Information Act indicate the EPA made a decision to approve the revised guidelines months ago, but has yet to make a formal announcement.
Meanwhile, aversion to transparency is now being discussed in Geneva. John Heilprin is reporting for the Associated Press that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is considering a reversal of its policy of transparency regarding how it spends the billions of dollars contributed to it. Mr. Heilprin’s report discusses the hostile reaction to this suggestion – which resulted from revelations (by the organization’s internal transparency program) that the fund lost millions of dollars as a result of fraud and mismanagement. The proposed solution: to hell with transparency! Be sure to read Heilprin’s entire report. It presents a fine example of the latest trend in coping with the “transparency problem”.