The Obama administration rode into Washington with a battle cry of "governmental transparency".  Today, Vice President Joe Biden proves it by holding a Transparency Board Meeting that is closed to the press and the general public.

Background briefings and closed-door meetings are common in every presidential administration, and White House aides insist there’s nothing to see here. But, by calling itself the most open and transparent government in modern history, the Obama administration invites deeper scrutiny and criticism of such events.

This meeting isn't the first incidence of this lack-of transparency, either.

In March, President Obama accepted an award from the organizers of Sunshine Week — designed to promote government openness — in an Oval Office meeting closed to reporters. (He was honored with the award despite criticism from some good-government groups that federal agencies aren’t abiding by White House instructions to grant more Freedom of Information Act requests.)

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Reporters regularly grumble that press access to White House bill signings and meetings is either canceled at the last minute or closed to print reporters and television cameras to keep Obama from having to answer questions that are shouted at him. The White House Correspondents’ Association protested on behalf of print and TV reporters in July when they were barred from pool access to Obama’s meetings with congressional leaders on the federal debt.

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In September, State Department officials briefed reporters on a new open government partnership with 30 countries — but insisted that the officials involved not be identified by name in news stories.

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Transparency advocates also note that the White House has done very little to fight proposed budget cuts for the Electronic Government Fund, established in the early days of the administration to build Web sites designed to bring more government information into the open.

When did the White House become the "glass house"?


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