AP reporter asks State Dept: Why the huge spike in FOIA requests under Obama?

Associated Press correspondent Matt Lee wonders why the State Department’s Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, requests have more than tripled since President Barack Obama assumed office if his administration is really the most “transparent” in history.

Could the reason be that the administration isn’t as open as the president says, leaving people with only one option: prying the information from the State Department with FOIA requests?

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said that since 2008, when Obama was first elected, the State Department has experienced a 300 percent jump in FOIA requests.

“Just to compare, in 2008 we had fewer than 6,000 new FOIA requests. Last year we had nearly 20,000,” Rathke said. “That’s a number that continues to rise.”

Lee found that huge spike curious.

“Don’t you find it interesting that there’s been a 300 percent increase in the number of FOIA requests you’ve gotten?” Lee asked. “Does that not suggest that regardless of your commitment to be open and transparent that people are not convinced this building has been open and transparent?”

Rathke sidestepped the question.

“Well, look, Matt, I’m not going to draw a conclusion what the reason is behind the numbers,” he said.

“You can also ask other federal agencies whether they’ve experienced similar increases. I don’t know if they’ve had the same increases, but I think across the government there have been increases in numbers of FOIA requests.

“It may be that people know more about FOIA than they did in 2008 and people make use of it,” Rathke said.

Lee moved on to the year — 2008 — that marked the beginning of the spike in requests.

“It suggests that for some reason, since 2008, people haven’t been too confident in the State Department’s commitment to openness and transparency, at least as it refers to being open and transparent without an FOIA,” the reporter said.

Rathke declined to draw any conclusion.

He didn’t have to — the numbers speak for themselves

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