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Mark Caserta: Obama falls short on promise of transparency

Nov. 22, 2013 @ 09:59 AM

The day after his inauguration, President Obama promised a new era of "openness in government."

"We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration," he wrote in one of his first memos to federal agencies. "Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government."

Well, five years into the Obama presidency, Americans are balking at their willingness to take this president at his word.

Among a laundry list of examples contributing to this sentiment is the administration's lack of forthrightness in the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012.

A recent survey, commissioned by "Secure American Now," and conducted by pollsters John McLaughlin and Pat Caddell, revealed that 63 percent of Americans believe the president and his administration are covering up the facts of the siege that killed information officer Sean Smith, former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty and Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Those following the tragedy's timeline remember the Obama administration attempted to blame the pre-meditated attack on an obscure video mocking Islam and the Prophet Mohammed, but later was forced into admitting the storming of the consulate was indeed a calculated terrorist attack thanks to a pursuit of truth by a few patriotic Americans.

Subsequent investigations disclosed there were survivors who were present the night of the onslaught who could possibly shed light on the events that transpired during the senseless massacre.

For example, why did the Obama administration falter in providing military support for the ambassador and his aides and who issued the "stand down" order? Also, why did the administration attempt to downplay terrorist involvement in the attack and why the obvious resolve to prevent testimony from surviving eye witnesses?

For more than a year since the attack, Congress has tried repeatedly to gain access to these survivors, with little success -- until now.

Last week, three CIA security officers who were present during the attack testified in a closed-door session before the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. The men were described by sources as former Navy SEALS, Army Special Forces and Marines, under contract to guard CIA agents on the consulate grounds.

Their identities and information regarding their testimony have not been released.

However, information obtained recently by Fox News revealed that at least five CIA personnel, including government contractors, were asked to sign "non-disclosure" agreements regarding the Benghazi attack. While such agreements are standard protocol, it's unclear why these individuals were asked to complete a second agreement following the incident.

Why does it always appear the Obama administration seems to be working harder trying to hide the truth than it does pursuing it?

It's entirely possible that while the allegory of presidents portrays George Washington as "unable to tell a lie," Barack Obama could go down in history as the president "unable to tell the truth."

While this administration falls way short of delivering its promise of transparency, more Americans are clearly beginning to see through this president.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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