Emails, Distractions, and Details Muddle the Clinton Picture

We Must Remain Focused on the Macro-Hillary Picture

By Scott W. Winchell, SUA Editor

On Friday, the second tranche of court ordered releases of Clinton emails occurred and included 41 messages that reviewers determined contained classified material. There were a few Benghazi related emails in this a chronological release that pre-dated the attack, with at least one referring to security concerns.

But remember what she said at the UN; “there is no classified material… I’m certainly well-aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”  Oh, the sheer volume of the moving parts…that thumb drive!

Original Image By REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files
Original Image By REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/Files

Several sites have shown the content and how much information can be gleaned, but we are getting lost in the noise; we are not looking at the totality of all of her actions over a very long period. Once again, this is all done in a purposeful manner to keep people confused, like turning over print versions instead of electronic certainly see to that end.

She lied, broke the rules repeatedly, stalled, obfuscated, and the story changes almost daily while the State Department barely meets the court ordered release requirements.

“It says the process is slower because of intense scrutiny by U.S. intelligence agencies to ensure that emails from her private server don’t contain any sensitive or classified government secrets…2,206 pages of emails, roughly 12 percent of the 55,000 pages” were released.

Maybe if they had the electronic version it would be a wee bit faster. Again, a lot of noise, a lot of shiny objects, all piece meal, but definitely at a classified level or it wouldn’t take so long.

However, if we look at this from a 40,000 foot macro perspective, we can clearly see that Clinton should be the subject of an investigation either by the FBI or a Select Committee from Congress at a minimum, and for more than just the email scandal.

Hoping another shiny object would distract us, her campaign released tax records at almost the same moment, timed to do just that and today they released more medical records. With so many moving parts in this saga, it is easy to get lost in the details; look, a squirrel.

hillary-clinton-foundation-money-cashSo let’s begin with a macro question; at what time is any communication transmitted by the Secretary of State of the United States of America not of interest to foreign powers?

For that matter, what about political adversaries, or even the proverbial hacker in his basement on a joy ride to see what he can get into on the net? The answer of course is never, ask Sydney Blumenthal.

All members of a President’s cabinet are by definition some of the most powerful people in the world; all are targets, all the time. That is why we have rules and laws in place to preserve the safety of the information each deals with 24/7; it is called national security.

When it comes to the Secretary of State, the most important cabinet level position and the number four slot for Presidential succession, it is clear that all communications he or she engages in are de facto important and sensitive in nature, even if it’s just about what she wants to eat that day. When does something actually get classified? Is it not often after the fact anyway as we now see?hillary-clinton-what-difference-does-it-make-benghazi-dead-americans-9111

When considering whether or not a coded stamp is placed on any transmission designating it to be classified at some level is beside the point, and it is folly to split hairs about whether or not Hillary Clinton knew they were or were not.

All her correspondence is important to some enemy. Any responsible person, especially somebody who once resided in the White House knows this and is required to act accordingly, that is, unless you are a Clinton. Her denials are an insult to our intelligence.

What is worse, and we have to keep repeating this point, at no time ever, did Hillary Clinton have any right of ownership of her email as Secretary of State. None, not even “personal” ones! Each and every transmission she made after swearing an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution were automatically the property of the people – case closed!

The proof in just how important her communications are or were, is in the data dump we received yesterday where large portions of her transmissions were heavily redacted and many were classified after the fact as too sensitive to be released to the public. Not only is it a fact that she did not own them, she also harbored them outside the purview of federal security, a crime. Who cares what was in the headline at the NY Times.

Then there is the case of the personal lawyer and others with whom she gave access to view all of her transmissions, and that pesky thumb drive. When did she become the arbiter of who had clearance to view what is now confirmed to be sensitive intelligence? And, what about all those gaps?

ClintonEmailGap

The Clinton camp assures us that her personal attorney holds proper clearance, but he is not a State Department employee and has no right to harbor sensitive material let alone even seeing it, especially in a private setting, ask David Petraeus. And why has no one from the State Department sent security agents to secure that thumb drive from David Kendall?

“This raises very serious questions and concerns if a private citizen is somehow retaining classified information,” Grassley’s said in a letter sent late last week. He asked for more information on Kendall’s clearance and whether the lawyer was authorized to “be the custodian of classified national security information.” The FBI has not yet responded. (Politico)

Then there is the curious case of Huma Abedin, another Grassley letter to State:

“The letter sought the status of an inquiry into whether Abedin had violated conflict-of-interest laws related to her special employment situation, which allowed her to work simultaneously for the State Department, the Clinton Foundation and a private firm with close ties to the Clintons.”

Huma-Abedin-and-Hillary-ClintonHow was it that Abedin was given such status, apparently over paid at that, and once again clearly brings the Clinton Foundation and all its moving parts back into the picture?

Everything the Clintons touch is part of a racket, pure and simple, and a personal ATM. From 40,000 feet it all forms a clear picture – Hillary Clinton is not only a dismal campaigner and speaker, she is as corrupt and untrustworthy as any has ever been.

The Clinton campaign worries about the damage that cannot be “unwound” that the NY Times caused in their opinion, but maybe they should worry more about the law and Judge Sullivan who on Friday turned up the heat a bit more:

A federal judge has ordered the State Department to ask Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to certify under penalty of perjury that she has turned over some of the work-related emails she kept on a private server during the four years she served as secretary of state.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan issued the order Friday in connection with a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit the conservative group Judicial Watch filed in 2013 seeking records about the employment status of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, who worked as Clinton’s deputy chief of staff but later transferred to a part-time job as a so-called “special government employee.”

At such a hearing on Friday, Sullivan—a Bill Clinton appointee—told State to seek certifications from Hillary Clinton, Abedin and former Deputy Secretary of State Cheryl Mills that they’ve produced all records related to Abedin’s employment, even if they kept those records outside official State Department systems.

“As related to Judicial Watch’s FOIA requests in this case, the Government is HEREBY ORDERED to: (1) identify any and all servers, accounts, hard drives, or other devices currently in the possession or control of the State Department or otherwise that may contain responsive information; (2) request that the above named individuals confirm, under penalty of perjury, that they have produced all responsive information that was or is in their possession as a result of their employment at the State Department,” Sullivan wrote in an order issued Friday afternoon.

“If all such information has not yet been produced, the Government shall request the above named individuals produce the information forthwith; and (3) request that the above named individuals describe, under penalty of perjury, the extent to which Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills used Mrs. Clinton’s email server to conduct official government business.” (Read the rest here at Politico.)

We should turn up the heat as well, and avoid being sucked into the maelstrom they want us to focus upon instead. Our attention must be maintained and we should read more about the “law and the Secretary of State”:

“…four sections of the law: the Federal Records Act, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the National Archives and Records Administration‘s (NARA) regulations and Section 1924 of Title 18 of the U.S. Crimes and Criminal Procedure Code.” (Read more at the NPR article written on this last April. Also see Title 44 here, and a time line on the creation of these laws.)

Wait for it though, rumors of another “bimbo eruption” will be sure to confuse and distract us from what we believe makes Hillary Clinton a criminal and unfit to hold any office in America… other than one in a prison cell.


A reprise of the following is warranted here:

THE CRIMINAL ARROGANCE OF HILLARY CLINTON – Bill Whittle

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Valerie Jarrett – 'Cover-up Czar' or Advisor to POTUS

Editor’s Note – We now have yet another Czar reporting to the White House, this time, a political hack to oversee the Ebola crisis. Did you know we have another unnamed Czar in charge of cover-ups?

It appears we have had an unannounced Czar, the “Cover-up Czar” who goes by another title: “Senior Advisor to the President of the United States and Assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs,” better known as Valerie Jarrett.

Valerie Jarrett and her "boss" Obama
Valerie Jarrett and her “boss” Obama

It is clear that our POTUS is more an “Observer-in-Chief” and his no spine of his own, Valerie Jarrett is his spine. It is clear that she is behind every cover-up as we see may be proven once again in regard to Fast and Furious..

Again, it is Judicial Watch, through their diligent work in unearthing evidence hidden by this administration that reveals just how transparent the administration really is, or as we all know now, are clearly not transparent.

Valerie Jarrett Key Player in Fast and Furious Cover-Up After Holder Lied to Congress

From Judicial Watch – Corruption Chronicles

President Obama’s trusted senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, was a key player in the effort to cover up that Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress about the Fast and Furious scandal, according to public records obtained by Judicial Watch.

The information is part of a Department of Justice (DOJ) “Vaughn index” detailing records about the gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious.

JW had to sue the agency for the records after the Obama administration failed to provide them under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

A federal court ordered the DOJ to provide the records over the agency’s objections. Yesterday JW reported on the broad information in the records, including that Obama asserted executive privilege for Holder’s wife as part of the administration’s efforts to cover up the scandal.

UntitledPractically lost in the 1,000-plus pages of records is an index that shows Jarrett was brought in to manage the fact that Holder lied to Congress after the story about the disastrous gun-running operation broke in the media.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran the once-secret program that allowed guns from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels.

Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of hundreds of weapons which have been used in an unknown number of crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.

The files received by JW include three electronic mails between Holder and Jarrett and one from former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke to Jarrett. The e-mails with Holder are all from October 4, 2011, a significant date because, on the evening of October 3rd, Sheryl Attkisson (then at CBS news) released documentsshowing that Holder had been sent a briefing paper on Operation Fast and Furious on June 5, 2010.

The paper was from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, Michael Walther.

This directly contradicted Holder’s May 3, 2011 testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, during which he stated that he, “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”

The October 4, 2011 date may also be significant because it came shortly after the August 30, 2011 resignation of U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke and reassignment of acting ATF director Kenneth Melson to the position of “senior forensics advisor” at DOJ.

The description of one of the e-mails, written from Jarrett to Holder, reads, “re: personnel issues.” Another, also from Jarrett, reads, “outlining and discussing preferred course of action for future responses in light of recent development in congressional investigation.”

Unfortunately, the index is vague and that’s all the information we have about them. Nevertheless, given the timing and subject of these e-mails, it seems clear that Jarrett quickly became a key player in the Fast and Furious cover-up in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that Holder had lied to Congress.

Obama Admin – Transparency, Redaction, and Delay…

Editor’s Note – The “Most transparent administration ever” is the mantra of the Obama Administration, and they laud the fact that the White House Visitor List is available – elsewhere, not so…

Ask the Citizens Commission on Benghazi with their myriad requests for information on Benghazi. Ask Karen and Billy Vaughn about ‘Extortion 17’. Ask the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, ask the House Ways and Means Committee.Capture2

Look at all the scandals – all of them still unsolved and/or not concluded from Fast & Furious, to the IRS, from the AP to Fox News reporters, it’s always opaque at best.

The reason is always – NO TRANSPARENCY! All we see is redaction, lies, deflections, demagoguery, distractions, delays, finger pointing, the blame game, the fifth… and then there all those unbelievable statistics on jobs, GNP, the debt, ObamaCare, HHS, wage disparity, etc. – lies, damn lies, and those rascally  statistics.

The most [REDACTED] administration in history

BY GENE HEALY – Washington Examiner

Good news: thanks to a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday, the “most transparent administration in history” is going to have to tell American citizens when it believes it’s legally entitled to kill them.

The lawsuit arose out of Freedom of Information Act requests by two New York Times reporters for Office of Legal Counsel memoranda exploring the circumstances under which it would be legal for U.S. personnel to target American citizens. The administration stonewalled, asserting that “the very fact of the existence or nonexistence of such documents is itself classified,” and a federal district judge upheld the refusal in January 2013.

Issa-600A month later, however, someone leaked a Justice Department “white paper” on the subject to NBC News, forcing a re-examination of the question in light of changed circumstances. On Monday, the three-judge panel held “it is no longer either ‘logical’ or ‘plausible’ to maintain that disclosure of the legal analysis in the OLC-DOD Memorandum risks disclosing any aspect” of sensitive sources and methods.

In matters of transparency, the Obama Team can always be counted on to do the right thing — after exhausting all other legal options and being forced into it by the federal courts.

When “peals of laughter broke out in the briefing room” after then-press secretary Robert Gibbs floated the “most transparent administration” line at an April 2010 presser, the administration should have taken the hint. But it’s one soundbite they just can’t quit. Gibbs’ successor Jay Carneyrepeated it just last week, as did the president himself in a Google Hangout last year: “This is the most transparent administration in history …. I can document that this is the case.”

Actually, any number of journalists and open government advocates have documented that it’s not. As the Associated Press reported last month: “More often than ever, the [Obama] administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.”

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In the hope-infused afterglow of his first inauguration, President Obama declared, “for a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” and ordered his attorney general to issue newly restrictive standards for government use of the “state secrets privilege,” which allows the government to shield national security secrets from civil or criminal discovery. Attorney General Eric Holder pledged that the administration would not “invoke the privilege for the purpose of concealing government wrongdoing or avoiding embarrassment.”GretaVanSustern-RedactedDocs224x199

Easier pledged than done, apparently. Earlier this year, in a case involving a Stanford graduate student erroneously placed on a no-fly list, we learned that the government had cried “state secrets” to cover up a paperwork error. Holder himself assured the court that assertion of the privilege was in keeping with the new policy of openness. When the presiding judge found out the truth, he said: “I feel that I have been had by the government.”

In fact, the Obama administration has driven state secrecy to new levels of absurdity. We’re not even allowed to know who we’re at war with, apparently, because letting that secret slip could cause “serious damage to national security.”

Over the last year, thanks in large part to illegal leaks, we’ve learned that we’re living in a [REDACTED] republic. In the president’s version of “transparency,” the Americans have no right to debate even the most basic public questions — like the legal standards for spying on or killing American citizens — unless, of course, that information leaks, at which point the administration “welcomes” the debate.

State/DHS Special Agent reports on Benghazi – Judicial Watch

JW Special Report: “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions”

By Judicial Watch featuring Raymond Fournier’s Report

Judicial Watch Analysis on Eve of Hillary Clinton Hill Testimony Finds Continued State Department Duplicity, Questions Department Commitment to Protect Security of Overseas Diplomats  

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released “The Benghazi Attack of September 11, 2012: Analysis and Further Questions from a Diplomatic Security Service Regional Security Officer and Special Agent,” a Special Report closely examining the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the assault, as well as the State Department’s commitment to protect overseas diplomats.

The new report contains in-depth analysis, conducted exclusively for Judicial Watch by former State Department Security Special Agent Raymond Fournier, examines the critical time period leading up to the Benghazi attack, when repeated requests for increased security were shunned by top State Department officials. It also examines the Obama administration’s official claim that “an obscure Internet video” triggered the attacks, as well as apparently false claims that four top State Department officials had resigned in response to the Department’s December 18 Accountability Review Board report on the attack. And it raises questions as to the internal problems within the Department that may continue to leave overseas diplomats without adequate security.

“As the [Accountability Review] Board’s report makes clear,” the Judicial Watch Special Report concludes, “the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi resulted from a wide range of strategic and tactical failures by State Department officials.  Chief among them was the fateful decision to circumvent established security regulations by designating the diplomatic post in Benghazi a ‘Special Mission Compound,’ ignoring repeated requests for additional security resources by Diplomatic Security personnel on the ground, and entrusting the security of the SMC [Special Mission Compound] to a local militia group with suspected ties to radical Islamists.  As Special Agent Fournier notes in his assessment of the tragedy, there were also long-standing cultural problems within the Department of State that hinder the ability of Diplomatic Security agents to adequately protect our diplomats overseas.”

Among the questions raised by the Judicial Watch Benghazi report:

Who at the State Department was responsible for opening up and continuing the operation of the “Special Mission Compound” in the unstable environment of Benghazi, overriding physical security standards for diplomatic facilities?

  • According to Fournier, “The Department’s unexplained decision to create a new category of diplomatic structure, i.e. the ‘Special Mission Compound,’” for the purpose of “skirting the established physical security standards” for embassies and consulates was the “critical error” leading to the deadly attack.

Did the Director of Diplomatic Security or his immediate subordinates have authority to countermand the Department’s desire to open “SMC Benghazi?”

  • In the Judicial Watch report, Fournier cautions that, “Frequently, security policy and standards are set aside as inconvenient, restraining, time consuming or simply less important relative to loftier goals foreign policy goals prosecuted by the Department’s elite. One need go no further than Benghazi to see an example of the aforementioned managerial arrogance with the Department.”

Why did Ambassador Stevens travel to Benghazi, so close to the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks?

  • The Judicial Watch Special Report reveals State Department warnings in July, August, and September of 2012 advising against travel to the Mideast in general and Benghazi in particular.

Why were two unmanned aerial vehicles requested to record the deadly events as they unfolded in Benghazi while more lethal air support options were not on station?

“Our Special Report shows that the State Department has conspicuously avoided many issues about the Benghazi attack,” stated Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “Our concern is that security has taken a back seat to politics at the State Department.  The willingness of the State Department and the White House to lie about the Benghazi attack does not inspire confidence that the Benghazi security failures will be seriously addressed.  In the meantime, our diplomatic personnel may remain at risk as politicians and bureaucrats avoid accountability.”

Hillary Clinton was instrumental in advancing the false narrative that the internet video sparked the attacks. For example, as the Judicial Watch Special Report documents, at a September 14, 2012, even honoring the four victims of the Benghazi attack, Secretary Clinton made the following statement: “We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen the rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful video that we had nothing to do with.”

Judicial Watch has more than 10 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests pending with various Executive departments and agencies seeking records relating to the Benghazi attack.

Obama Admin ignores FOIA Laws

Editor’s Note – Its getting very redundant – “the most transparent administration ever” – strikes again. Or we should say hides again!

Obama Cabinet Flunks Disclosure Test With 19 in 20 Ignoring Law

Newsmax via Bloomberg

On his first full day in office, President Barack Obama ordered federal officials to “usher in a new era of open government” and “act promptly” to make information public.

Nineteen of 20 cabinet-level agencies disobeyed the law requiring the disclosure of public information: The cost of travel by top officials. 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.

“When it comes to implementation of Obama’s wonderful transparency policy goals, especially FOIA policy in particular, there has been far more ‘talk the talk’ rather than ‘walk the walk,’” said Daniel Metcalfe, director of the Department of Justice’s office monitoring the government’s compliance with FOIA requests from 1981 to 2007.

The Bloomberg survey was designed in part to gauge the timeliness of responses, which Attorney General Eric Holder called “an essential component of transparency” in a March 2009 memo. About half of the 57 agencies eventually disclosed the out-of-town travel expenses generated by their top official by Sept. 14, most of them well past the legal deadline.

Bloomberg reporters in June filed FOIA requests for fiscal year 2011 taxpayer-supported travel for Cabinet secretaries and top officials of major departments. Justice Department official Melanie Ann Pustay said in an interview that disclosure of those records is in the public interest.

Even agency heads who publicly announce their events — including Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — didn’t provide the costs of their out-of-town trips more than three months after the initial request.

“It’s ironic that the demands in the presidential campaign for Mitt Romney’s tax returns are unrelenting, but when it comes time to release the schedules for senior appointees there’s the same denial of access,” said Paul Light, a New York University professor who studies the federal bureaucracy.

“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 noted that Obama received an award for his commitment to open government. The March 2011 presentation of that award was closed to the press.

The travel costs generated by some other Obama officials — Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, and Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano — also remain undisclosed.

A request made in June for the travel records of Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, will remain unfulfilled for more than a year, according to a federal official involved in the case.

“We really appreciate your patience in this matter. The estimated completion date is July 2013,” wrote Chris Barnes, a State Department FOIA official, in a Sept. 24 e-mail. Under FOIA, the department is required to offer a timetable for delayed responses.

Government travel costs have received greater scrutiny since a report by the General Services Administration’s inspector general on April 2 revealed that a 2010 Las Vegas junket — featuring a mind reader and a clown — cost taxpayers more than $823,000. Since then, GSA Administrator Martha Johnson has resigned and the IG has referred the matter to the Department of Justice.

Records obtained as a result of another Bloomberg FOIA request showed that the GSA almost tripled its expenditures for conferences from 2005 to 2010. Taxpayers paid $27.8 million for more than 200 overnight gatherings attended by at least 50 GSA employees over the five-year period, according to the records.

Under Obama, federal agencies also have stepped up the use of exemptions to block the release of information.

During the first year of the administration, cabinet agencies employed exemptions 466,402 times, a 50 percent jump from the last year of the presidency of George W. Bush. While exemption citations have since been reduced by 21 percent from that high, they still are above the level seen during the Bush administration, according to Justice Department data.

The majority of the exemptions came from the Department of Homeland Security, which gets the most requests, records show.

The greater number of documents released online helps explain the increased use of exemptions, according to Tracy Russo, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department. “The pool of requests that are made tend to be more complex,” she said.

Open government advocates note that Obama’s transparency pledge is undermined by a federal bureaucracy that often cites staff shortages and compliance costs to delay the release of information.

“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.”

In one case Meyer pursued, the Center for Auto Safety was told by Treasury FOIA officials that its request for records relating to the U.S. auto bailout would cost $38,000. Meyer successfully argued the fees should be waived because the request was in the public interest.

The Freedom of Information Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966, is designed to open up the process of government to citizens. Individuals have the right to file requests, and the law mandates that the department answer the query within 20 working days, ask for a 10-day extension, or offer a timetable for the release of the information.

In the past, FOIA has been used to obtain a wide range of government records. Among them: Documents on the use of the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War; Department of Transportation reports detailing safety issues with the Ford Pinto’s fuel tank that contributed to some 500 deaths; and details of the Bush administration’s deliberations on the use of torture following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“It’s the smoking gun that often holds government accountable for its misdeeds,” said Kevin Goldberg, a First Amendment attorney at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth Plc in Arlington, Virginia, who also serves as legal counsel for the American Society of News Editors.

Miriam Nisbet, the head of the Office of Government Information Services, which acts as a FOIA ombudsman, said Obama deserves praise for highlighting government accountability.

“We see a great deal of emphasis and attention paid to transparency,” she said. “That is a really important message.”

Nisbet’s office offered travel documents three days after acknowledging the FOIA request.

The Bloomberg FOIA filing also asked each department to identify trips, lodging and meals provided by non-federal sources. All told, 30 of the 57 agencies contacted replied with those travel records by Sept. 14.

Of the 20 Cabinet-level agencies contacted by Bloomberg News, only the Small Business Administration met the legal 20-day deadline by disclosing that Administrator Karen Mills took 27 trips out of Washington at a total cost to the U.S. taxpayer of $15,856.

The records of Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, Labor Hilda Solis, former Secretary of Commerce and Acting Secretary Gary Locke and Rebecca Blank, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Jacob Lew, the former director of the Office and Management and Budget who is now White House Chief of Staff, were released to Bloomberg News under the request, though those agencies did not meet the 20-day deadline.

Kirk, “who travels all over the world” for his duties according to the USTR website, took 23 business trips in fiscal 2011, 17 of which involved domestic travel, for a cost of about $45,000. Kirk “has said many times that increased outreach to the American people” is important for economic growth, USTR spokeswoman Carol Guthrie said in an e-mail.

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.”

The Department of Justice, which is charged with monitoring how all federal agencies respond to FOIA requests, has yet to release the travel details of top officials at three of its affiliated agencies: The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Pustay, head of the Justice Department’s Office of Information Policy, said that taxpayer-supported travel records are “certainly something that people would ask for and something that’s of interest to the public.” She said “the crush of work” makes swift replies difficult.

None of the nine exemptions under the FOIA — which protect national security, personal information or corporate trade secrets, for example — allow taxpayer-supported travel expenses to remain hidden from view.

Those records may include information, such as private mobile-phone numbers or information related to security, that is exempted from disclosure, which could be causing the delays, Pustay said.

Responsive agencies were able to redact personal details within the FOIA time period. The Federal Housing Finance Agency, the chief regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, provided the travel expense records for Acting Director Edward DeMarco’s six trips out of town within 15 days of the filing.

DeMarco’s trips cost $5,653.29, the documents show. Personal information such as his Social Security number and home address were blacked-out in the file.

The process for accessing information that hasn’t been already released remains confusing, time-consuming and at times antagonistic, said Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, a Washington-based open-information repository.

“There is a culture of obfuscation among agency Freedom of Information officials,” he said. “Bureaucrats are able to deter a lot of citizen engagement.”

Travel records were largely shielded from public view until Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act on July 4, 1966. Congress adopted post-Watergate reforms in 1974, giving agencies a deadline to comply with requests and narrowing exemptions for law enforcement and national security agencies. The FOIA law was updated another four times through 2007, when the Office of Government Information Services was established as the federal ombudsman.

The White House says it has released more than 2.5 million records since Obama took office. Recovery.gov allows citizens to track stimulus spending by state. The administration also has for the first time posted the names of White House visitors, though not a full list of who has attended meetings.

Other records now disclosed include the number of weapons in the nation’s nuclear arsenal, report cards for veterans’ hospitals, and employer-specific workplace safety records kept by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The total number of FOIA requests increased, with 631,424 processed last year, compared with 600,849 in 2010.

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

The Justice Department reported in 2008 that there were 3,691 full-time FOIA personnel across all departments and agencies. In 2011, the figure increased by 19 percent to 4,400, according to the department. Some agencies outsource FOIA-related tasks, including the redaction process. The government has spent at least $86.2 million on contracts described as pertaining to FOIA since 2009, according to federal procurement data compiled by Bloomberg.

The administration acknowledged systemic issues with the FOIA process when the Office of Management and Budget issued guidelines Aug. 24 to all federal agencies on how to streamline government information. The memo called for all government information to be stored in an electronic format by December 2019 — almost three years after the end of a potential second Obama term.

Stephen Hess, a presidential historian at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, called the survey results a “grim” assessment of Obama’s transparency record. He said the president — like many of the men who have occupied the Oval Office — has discovered how difficult it is to bend the government’s bureaucracies to his will.

“The sad part is it won’t be any better for the next folks either,” Hess said. “The only difference perhaps is the Obama people led us to believe it would be different.”