CBS News Interview with Lt. Col. Wood “State Dept Initiated Ill Advised Security Draw Down Before Attack”

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Obama’s Failed Promise of Transparency

President Barack Obama promised to “usher in a new era of open government” and “a new standard of openness” but as the president reaches the end of his term in office it appears that transparency can be added to the long list of broken promises from this administration.

According to an analysis of open-government requests filed by Bloomberg News, nineteen of 20 cabinet-level agencies failed to reveal the cost of travel by top officials violating the time frame requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. In all, just eight of the 57 federal agencies met Bloomberg’s request for those documents within the 20-day window required by the Act.

Eric Newton, senior adviser at the Knight Foundation, a Miami-based group that promotes citizen engagement, said agencies have no excuse not to rapidly disclose travel costs.

“In a 24/7 world, it should take two days, it should take two hours,” Newton said. “If it’s public, it should be just there.”

“Over the past four years, federal agencies have gone to great efforts to make government more transparent and more accessible than ever, to provide people with information that they can use in their daily lives,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz, who pointed out that Obama received an award for his commitment to open government.

The March 2011 presentation of that award was closed to the press.

There has been much sharper scrutiny on the cost of government since the General Services Administration scandal surfaced that revealed that a 2010 Las Vegas junket, featuring a mind reader and a clown, cost taxpayers more than $823,000. The GSA almost tripled its expenditures for conferences from 2005 to 2010.

Another disturbing trend under the Obama administration is the number of exemptions issued to block the release of information. During the first year of hope and change, cabinet agencies employed a 50 percent jump in exemptions from the last year of the presidency of George W. Bush. That number has since gone down by 21 percent but still remains above any level seen during the Bush administration.

The majority of the exemptions came from the Department of Homeland Security.

Staff shortages and compliance costs are some of the excuses often cited to excuse Obama’s failures to uphold his transparency pledge.

“I don’t think the administration has been very good at all on open-government issues,” said Katherine Meyer, a Washington attorney who has been filing open records requests since the late 1970s. “The Obama administration is as bad as any of them, and to some extent worse.”

Meyer was able to get the $38,000 fee for the Center for Auto Safety’s request of records on the U.S. auto bailout by successfully arguing that the request was in the public interest.

The government’s own website, FOIA.gov, which monitors its response to filings shows that the number of backlogged requests grew 20 percent from 2010 to 2011 to 83,490 filings.

 

Ben Swann’s Reality Check: “Muslim Protests Have Nothing To Do With A Youtube Video?”

Ben Swann takes a look at the United Nations call for an international blasphemy law and the riots that were supposedly caused by the movie “The Innocence of Muslims”

 

Father Benedict Groeschel Says Priests Who Sexually Abused Children Were Actually Victims of Seduction

In a recent interview with the National Catholic Register, Father Benedict Groeschel, of the conservative Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, said that sometimes teens seduced priests involved in sexual abuse cases.

When Groeschel was asked about his work with sexual abuse perpetrators he responded withe following:

“People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath,” Groeschel said. “But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.”

When pressed for clarification he explained that kids looking for father figures might be drawn to priests to fill an emotional hole in their lives. Groeschel also said he believes that most of these “relationships” are heterosexual in nature, and that historically sexual relationships between men and boys have not been thought of as crimes.

“If you go back 10 or 15 years ago with different sexual difficulties — except for rape or violence — it was very rarely brought as a civil crime. Nobody thought of it that way… And I’m inclined to think, on [a priest’s] first offense, they should not go to jail because their intention was not committing a crime.”

National Catholic Register has taken down the interview and Groeschel has offered this statement:

I apologize for my comments. I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible. My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be. I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.

Not really sure which is worse, Mr. Groeschel’s statements or the fact that people still support the church.

Reality Check: 1 on 1 With President Obama, How Does He Justify A Kill List?

Leaked Documents Show Mittens Used ‘Blockers’ to Avoid Taxes

More than 900 pages of private audit and finance records that were recently leaked reveal that Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital, used Cayman Islands based funds to avoid paying U.S. taxes. The documents were posted on the website Gawker.

Some of the financial statements contained the creation of ‘blocker’ funds, noting that it ‘intends to conduct its operations so it will not be subject to United States federal income tax or withholding tax.’ A blocker is a paper company that serves as a buffer between the investor and the fund holding the investments. That means the investment income can be counted as a dividend and in some cases avoid income tax. Critics have long pointed to Romney’s alleged use of investments in offshore funds as an example of how America’s super rich avoid paying taxes.

‘The only reason they structure it that way is to avoid tax,’ said Rebecca Wilkins, senior counsel with the group Citizens for Tax Justice to ABC News.

‘It just confirms what everyone already believes about the tax system — that it’s rigged. That the rules are rigged to favor the well off.’

Repeatedly asked about his tax history, Romney says he has never paid less than 13 percent tax and called the fixation on his wealth ‘small-minded’.

‘I just have to say given the challenges that America faces — 23 million people out of work, Iran about to become nuclear, one out of six Americans in poverty — the fascination with taxes I paid I find to be very small minded compared to the broad issues we face,’ he said in June.

‘But I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that.’

The confidential records also provided financial statements and investor information on 18 Bain investment funds and three hedge funds in which Romney, his wife, Ann, and his children have invested. Some of the assets listed included loans to companies ranging from health care firms to a casino owned by major GOP donor Sheldon Adelson. In several of the funds, the family owns more than $1 million each in holdings.

 

What Happened to All the Shovel Ready Jobs?

Ever wonder what happened to all those shovel ready jobs Obama promised back in 2009?

So glad the president can have a sense of humor about the miserable economy the American people have to suffer through.

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