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Parry writes: "President Obama claims to value 'openness' as a core principle of democracy, but the truth is that his administration has been among the most secretive and manipulative in modern times, tailoring what the public hears about foreign crises to what serves his agenda."

President Obama. (photo: Getty)
President Obama. (photo: Getty)

Obama's 'Openness' and Deceit

By Robert Parry, Consortium News

25 April 15


President Obama claims to value “openness” as a core principle of democracy, but the truth is that his administration has been among the most secretive and manipulative in modern times, tailoring what the public hears about foreign crises to what serves his agenda, writes Robert Parry.

n disclosing the deaths of two Western hostages in a U.S. drone strike on an Al-Qaeda compound, President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he had ordered the declassification of the secret operation because “the United States is a democracy committed to openness in good times and in bad.”

But the reality of the past six years has been that his administration has enforced wildly excessive secrecy, selectively declassified material to mislead the American people, and failed to correct erroneous information on sensitive international issues.

This failure to trust the people with accurate information has arguably done great harm to U.S. democracy by promoting false narratives on a range of foreign conflicts. With all its talk about “public diplomacy” and “information warfare,” the Obama administration seems intent on using half-truths and falsehoods to herd the people into a misguided consensus rather than treating them like the true sovereigns of the Republic, as the Framers of the Constitution intended with the explicit phrase “We the People of the United States.”

For instance, the Obama administration rushed to judgments on pivotal international events – such as the Syrian-sarin case in 2013 and the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shoot-down over Ukraine in 2014 – and then refused to update those assessments as new evidence emerged changing how U.S. intelligence analysts understood what happened.

Instead of correcting or refining the record – and pursuing meaningful accountability against the perpetrators of these crimes – the Obama administration has left outdated, misleading accusations in the public domain, all the better to fit with some geopolitical goals, such as delegitimizing the Syrian and Russian governments. In other words, providing the American people with substantive updates on these atrocities and advancing the cause of justice take a back seat to keeping some geopolitical foe on the defensive.

In both the Syrian-sarin case and the MH-17 shoot-down, I’ve been told that U.S. intelligence analysts have not only refined their understanding of the events but – to a significant degree – reversed them. But the original assessments, which were released nine and five days after the events, respectively, were still being handed out to the press many months later. [See’s “A Fact-Resistant Group Think on Syria” and “US Intel Stands Pat on MH-17 Shoot-down.”]

What is perhaps most troubling in both cases, however, is that the killings involved serious crimes against humanity and the perpetrators have not been identified and brought to justice. Whatever new evidence U.S. intelligence has collected could help track down who was responsible but that doesn’t appear to be a priority for President Obama.

In the MH-17 case, the timetable for the next scheduled release of information is on the first anniversary of the shoot-down, which occurred on July 17, 2014. Given that the shoot-down, which killed 298 people, should be an active criminal investigation, it makes little sense to delay disclosures for something as artificial as an anniversary, giving whoever was responsible more time to slip away and cover their tracks.

In the meantime, the U.S. government continues to re-release its initial claims putting blame on foreign adversaries – the governments of Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin – so the assumption may be drawn that the updated analyses go in different directions, possibly implicating U.S. allies, such as Turkey or Saudi Arabia regarding the sarin attack and elements of the U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime in the MH-17 case. Whatever the truth, however, it is hard to justify why the U.S. government has withheld evidence in these criminal cases, whoever is implicated.

Double Standards

Of course, double standards sometimes appear to be the only standards when the U.S. government is involved these days. When ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine resist a coup that overthrew their elected president in 2014 – and get some help from Russians next door – the Obama administration and the mainstream U.S. news media decry “Russian aggression.”

On Wednesday, the Obama administration declassified its own claims that Russia had deployed air defense systems in eastern Ukraine and had built up its forces along the border with Ukraine, assertions that Russian officials denied, though those denials were not included in the article on Thursday by New York Times’ national security reporter Michael R. Gordon, who treated the allegations essentially as flat fact.

After citing some analysts musing about different explanations for Russian President Putin’s supposed actions, Gordon wrote, “Either way, the new military activity is a major concern because it has significantly reduced the amount of warning that Ukraine and its Western supporters would have if Russian forces and separatists mounted a joint offensive.”

Gordon then quoted State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf saying: “This is the highest amount of Russian air defense equipment in eastern Ukraine since August. … Combined Russian-separatist forces continue to violate the terms of the ‘Minsk-2’ agreement signed in mid-February.”

Though Gordon included no Russian response to these charges, he did mention that Russia had complained about what Gordon called “a modest program” of 300 American troops in Ukraine training national guard units, a program that Russian officials said could “destabilize the situation.” Gordon wrote that the Obama administration, in response to this Russian complaint. “declassified intelligence describing a range of Russian military activities in and near Ukraine.”

But the intelligence appeared to be just U.S. accusations. In Kiev, U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt tweeted about “the highest concentration of Russia air defense systems in eastern Ukraine since August” and illustrated his claim by showing a photo of a BUK anti-aircraft missile system. But the photo appeared to be an Associated Press photograph taken of a BUK system on display at an air show near Moscow two years ago, as the Russian network RT noted.

Gordon, who co-authored with Judith Miller the famously bogus Times’ exposé in 2002 about Iraq procuring aluminum tubes for building nuclear bombs, has been an eager conduit for U.S. government propaganda over the years, including his role last year in a page-one Times scoop that cited State Department and Ukrainian government claims about photographs that proved Russian troops were in Ukraine but turned out to be false. [See’s “NYT Retracts Russian Photo Scoop.”]

Yet, while Russia is not supposed to mind the forced ouster of a friendly government on its borders or the presence of U.S. and NATO forces supporting the successor regime, a more sympathetic view is taken when Saudi Arabia intervenes in Yemen’s civil war by bombing the country indiscriminately, reportedly killing hundreds of civilians and devastating ancient cities with priceless historical sites that date back thousands of years.

“They’re worried about their own security – and of course we’ve supported them,” stated White House communications director Jen Psaki. “But, again, we’re trying to redirect this to a political discussion here.” (The New York Times article about this “Saudi resolve” – with a similarly understanding tone toward the Saudis – was co-authored by Gordon.)

This pattern of perverting U.S. intelligence information to bolster some U.S. foreign policy agenda has become a trademark of the Obama administration – along with an unprecedented number of prosecutions of U.S. government whistleblowers who release real information that exposes government wrongdoing or waste. This double standard belies President Obama’s assertion that he values openness in a democracy.


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here. your social media marketing partner


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+8 # indian weaver 2015-04-25 14:10
The entire world laughs and sneers at Obama the Baby Boy Toy Liar and Coward.
+13 # bibi 2015-04-26 10:25
He is no worse than any other before him. The only president of the past forty years that gets my respect is Jimmy Carter.
+8 # lorenbliss 2015-04-26 16:39
Actually he is far worse -- undoubtedly the most maliciously Orwellian president in U.S. history.

With his Big Lie campaign promise of "change we can believe in" and his post-election transformation from Obama the Orator to Barack the Betrayer, he has proven himself to be infinitely more cunning than Nixon, who until now was the ultimate archetype and all-time nadir of presidential dishonesty.
+3 # Merlin 2015-04-26 17:51
lorenbliss 2015-04-26 16:39

I agree. As I often say; he is the greatest Trojan Horse ever pulled willingly into the Democratic compound.
+6 # trottydt 2015-04-26 21:30
Generally I agree with your posts, but I am inclined on this issue to cut President Obama a bit of slack owing to the hostility / treachery of the establishment environment he must contend with.
0 # ritawalpoleague 2015-04-28 14:56
Yep, indian weaver - as I've come to call this 'Disappointment of the Century', whom I now have renamed: President Oh Bomb Ah (the droner), I know firsthand the contempt the entire world holds us in, about to be upped should Oh Bomb Ah con us/U.S. once again into fast tracking of the TPP, an obvious buyer offer of him by the 1% villainaires.

Ugh, what a mess to be leaving our kids, grandkids and future generations ! Perhaps it's time for all of us, of any and all pol. parties and persuasions, to impeach this constitutional rights quashers and conner of us/U.S. all.
-2 # poetmarinerray 2015-04-25 22:25
It seems Robert Parry leaves out what he can't explain about the Obama Doctrine. Why doesn't he mention that President Obama sent both John Kerry and CIA Director John Brennan to Saudi Arabia to pressure them to halt the air strikes over Yemen? That's being "sympathetic " to Saudis widening the war in Yemen?!? Robert Parry needs to explain that accusation better.
+24 # Paul Larudee 2015-04-26 00:01
The pressure seems not to have been sufficient, does it. Sad that a small country like the United States is powerless to persuade the Saudi superpower.
+17 # jdd 2015-04-26 05:51
Sorry, the Obama administration has openly admitted logistical and strategic support for Saudi aggression. While publicly advising "restraint" in the face of the openness of the Saudi war crimes, in which this administration is now complicit, the true opposition has come not from Obama, but from the Pentagon, which fears the widening of the conflict. Moreover, President Obama has before him everything necessary to stop the Saudis in their traxcksa by exposing the treacherous Saudi role in sponsoring terrorism, including Al-Queda groups. But here again, he has chosen to keep that information classified, beginning with the 911 Joint Commission report on Saudi support for the hijackers, as it would open the door to a complete overhaul to US policy in the Middle-East.
+1 # James Marcus 2015-04-26 00:43
Far Beyond 'Tricky-Dick', or Bimbo Bush, this man actually purported to understand Political Dishonesty, pledging a return to Honesty-in Politics and Government, and gave nothing of the sort. This is a Very Bright and articulate man. His Campaign Pledge dishonesties, together with his Office Holding malignments, were premeditated and calculating.
He is Guilty, of High Treason, with pre-meditated intent to Subvert the Constitution of the United States.
And, He is a Mass Murderer, both of U S military Personnel, as well as Innocent victims, including Human Children and Animal Habitat, World -Wide.
He should stand trial before a World Court, for Crimes Against Humanity
+10 # Bruce Gruber 2015-04-26 06:02
So many so eager to personalize the implementation of public policy in the body of one individual - be it Obama, Cheney or Clinton. Knee jerk reactions to events, both planned and unexpected, are interpreted by each of us, individually, from the input we accept- from the sources we believe represent our predetermined, biased expectations.

In a society so Balkanized in its philosophies, mores and fantasies of both past and future, it must be challenging for any leader to try to justify decisions and satisfy the wants, needs and desires demanded so diversely.

Our 'sources of inspiration' - from Robertson to Chomsky, Wolfowitz to King, George Wallace to Abraham Lincoln, FDR to Cheney - do as much to divide as to enlighten. The incorporation of the Fourth Estate into a tool for its owners to control and 'educate' our citizenry is NOT what was designed by the compromises achieved by the diversity of principles represented by the settlers on this continent.

Lincoln, Wilson, Carter and Obama MAY represent the efforts to bring intellectual analysis into the function of leadership. LBJ and Nixon may have exercized their (differing) political expertise and conceptualizati on into their efforts. But none wrote the laws, supervised the mid-level functionaries or micromanaged every decision made under their administrations.

Whether Federal prosecutors, FED, Treasury or Defense Secretary holdovers, change in policy implementation is NOT solely the President's doing.
+13 # jdd 2015-04-26 07:49
In a way, you are right. Obama is and was an empty suit, a patsy and marionette for the Wall Street/ City of London financial oligarchy that created him. However, at the same time, as president of the United States, his willingness to carry out his "assigned role" has become the single greatest obstacle to both peace and economic recovery. Recall that Obama came in on a significant mandate, fueled by disgust with the Bush/Cheney administration, and then quickly set about betraying and demoralizing his base. In contrast, FDR and JFK, who were men of a different kind, were each thought by many among the Wall Street crowd to "be one of us," yet pursued independent policies by relying on their popular support.
+20 # Inspired Citizen 2015-04-26 06:03
The administration is spewing BS about the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well. In a letter to Obama, Sen. Warren and Sen. Brown essentially call Obama a liar (without using that word).
+13 # Anonymot 2015-04-26 07:53
Mystery why I voted twice for BO? The Republicans seemed worse?

I suspect that the reality is that people in the CIA have controlled the government since they fed the political powers false information from Korea, Honduras, Vietnam and the entire Middle East (+Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela.) The right-wing administrations like Papa Bush and his retarded kid were happy to agree. The question is, how do we account for the administrations allegedly of the left like Obama?

Why did Obama permeate his administration with people of the extreme right from the beginning? It was filled with Bush holdovers and rightist friends of Hillary like Rice, Powers, and Huma as well as a long list of nameless, faceless, powerful, pit bull people like Brennan & Panetta. Why?

Either Obama was an incredible plant by people we don't know. Or both he & his advisors were incredibly naive, inexperienced, and dumb. Or the keepers of the secrets blackmailed him on all appointments concerning foreign policy, security, & intelligence.

I don't tend to conspiracy theories, but his actions are so hard to believe that I tend to think the last of the above suggestions is the likeliest.
0 # Bruce Gruber 2015-04-26 09:41
Except, perhaps, for you and me (since we are both certain) We - or at least "I" - have righteous truth on our (my) side.

Nevertheless, for the moment, and with 'conspiracy' as our most clever rationale for understanding the world we may have glimpsed briefly and indirectly ... let us speculate that the 'magic' CIA can be assigned responsibility we may have already assigned earlier to the President.

Is it really possible that these ex-, part-, sadistic, amoral, shadowy military, patriotic Rambo's have the intelligence, patience, and organization to implement such a global success? CAN the chaotic, chauvinist religious/secul ar division of mankind be 'theirs'? And keep it hidden? They do seem rather uptight about the Snowden, Assange, Ellenberg type transparency doctrine of public awareness. But, even WITH MI6, Mossad and the rest of the spooks, do they get that much right?

Or is it more likely that - as in the politics, the church, labor unions, military, police, or any other manifestation of influence we try - SOME individuals become the most rotten apples in the barrel. CIA skills seem to include international drug trade, dark money transfer and black operations. But there seem to be few exposed for getting rich. If we dig deeper, we may note the financial, military/indust rial ones whose money in politics and media ownership dominate OUR institutions.

In any case, blaming someONE else seems wasteful. The enemy is US, our laziness and blame. Think! Vote!
+1 # dbrize 2015-04-27 12:03
I question only your final paragraph.

Blaming "US" is a bit like blaming the robbery victim because he forgot to lock his door.

In one of my prior professions I spent time traveling around the states visiting accounts. I always purchased the local newspaper upon settling in. I never recalled not reading of one or several local "issues" that were attracting cadres of citizens to council meetings, assemblies and augmented by Letters to the Editor" columns.

Though I travel less often these days, old habits die hard and I still note the same results when I consult local news.

This leads me to the thought that our "US" is actually working better than we think. "WE" are active in areas where we have not only immediate concerns, but where we perceive that we will be heard and make a difference.

The FF's were astute enough to know that in some future day the residents of Billings Montana would hardly have the time or inclination to study every issue in Washington DC. Which is why they designed not as so many mistakenly think, a democracy, but a republican form of government. Designed to make the elected representatives responsible to "US" at each succeeding level.

"They" have gamed a perfectly good system and
frankly, more than a few should be facing jail time or at minimum impeachment. This IMO is more a failure of enforcement agents of existing law and regulatory agencies than it is "US".

It's going to take more than voting, sorry to say.
-5 # 2015-04-26 08:10
The one condition that absolutely amazes me is the "insanity" of the supporters of PUTZUS. Insanity being defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

There are least 50 or more incidents where this clown has betrayed people, unions, organizations, the nation really. As for JOURNALISTS - you folks are the hardest hit, because you fall all over him and he betrays you by invading your privacy and threatens your careers.

-14 # Pipester 2015-04-26 10:23
This "journalist" has absolutely no credibility, and this article illustrates why. The operative basis for the entire piece is his statement: "In both the Syrian-sarin case and the MH-17 shoot-down, I’ve been told that U.S. intelligence analysts have not only refined their understanding of the events but – to a significant degree – reversed them."

This guy makes a living off of invention. It fits right in with his defense of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was all because of the Nazis of WWII who now control Ukraine, doncha know.

RSN promotes this drivel and then wonders why readers don't contribute.
+6 # Anonymot 2015-04-26 14:36
I certainly agree that you'll find what you're looking for at Fox news.
-7 # Pipester 2015-04-26 10:27
P.S. Being told something by "U.S. intelligence analysts" doesn't make it a fact. And what kind of U.S. intelligence analysts are they? Who do they work for? Where are they from? What are their credentials? This is fodder for the boobocracy.
+4 # Salus Populi 2015-04-26 20:42
... of whom you are seemingly a preim example.

If you bothered to read the articles, you would know that it is not just empty "intelligence analysis" that indicated it was the al-Qa'idah allied mercs in Syria that gassed their allies, but the range of the missiles involved, whose limitations were such that they could not have been launched from Syrian government-cont rolled territory.

Nor, in the case of MH-17, was it idle speculation, but globally published photographs of the outer hull of the plane's cockpit, which showed numerous punctures of the type made by machine guns, hardly explicable as shrapnel from a ground-based missile.

Of course, reicht-wingnuts are notoriously immune to facts and evidence, so I don't for a moment expect that your ignorance will be affected in the slightest, but for those who don't follow international events closely, it bears repeating.
0 # Caliban 2015-04-28 10:37
Good questions. Pierce is very scanty with either documentation or context. Considering the importance and complexity of these matters, the absence of such materials does leave much in doubt.
-12 # Starheart 2015-04-26 11:49
Has anyone else seen this and verified this:

Barack Obama Admits he was born in Kenya Speech

Isn't this all just part of conspiracy and treason against Americans by a group of people involved in Secret Societies within Politics, Corporations and the Military?
+5 # John Escher 2015-04-26 14:49
Quoting Starheart:
Has anyone else seen this and verified this:

Barack Obama Admits he was born in Kenya Speech

Isn't this all just part of conspiracy and treason against Americans by a group of people involved in Secret Societies within Politics, Corporations and the Military?

You are not very good at handling irony or context, are you?
-1 # Anonymot 2015-04-27 13:36
I'd never heard of it so I not only watched it, but a couple of hours of extreme right follow-on videos at the end of each video. I'm not a film expert, but it looks a fake to me. Frankly, I suspect the CIA has prepared phony documents about his past (or maybe real ones, as Cordley suggests below) and they have told him that it's either do as they say or they produce the phony docs & films and disgrace him, ruin his family, and put a permanent end to black political hopes. That's the sort of expertise the CIA/FBI have.
-6 # cordleycoit 2015-04-26 16:54
There's something driving him to hide his past we know more about Millard Filmore than our sitting prez.
0 # James Marcus 2015-04-27 14:58
He is truly 'Openly Deceitful'; perhaps one of the most brazen, pre-meditated, Bold-Faced Liars of all time.
0 # Caliban 2015-04-28 10:40
Bold-Faced Liar? Are you sure you aren't the one who deserves that title, JM?

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