In a May 2009 speech on national security, President Obama promised never to withhold information from the American people just because it was “uncomfortable” or “embarrassing” to the government.
Whenever he had to withhold information to protect the American people, Obama promised at the time, there would be judicial or congressional “oversight” of his actions.
“I ran for president promising transparency, and I meant what I said. And that’s why, whenever possible, my administration will make all information available to the American people so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable,” Obama said.
He then clarified, “I will never abandon — and will vigorously defend — the necessity of classification to defend our troops at war, to protect sources and methods, and to safeguard confidential actions that keep the American people safe.”
“Here’s the difference though: Whenever we cannot release certain information to the public for valid national security reasons, I will insist that there is oversight of my actions — by Congress or by the courts.”
Later in the speech, he declared: “We must not protect information merely because it reveals the violation of a law or embarrassment to the government.”
He went on to promise: “I will never hide the truth because it’s uncomfortable. I will deal with Congress and the courts as co-equal branches of government. I will tell the American people what I know and don’t know, and when I release something publicly or keep something secret, I will tell you why.”
The Obama administration faced criticism after opting to selectively edit key passages of the Orlando terrorist’s call with 911 dispatchers, in which he reportedly pledged his allegiance to ISIS. The FBI switched course and released the unedited version Monday afternoon.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan called the censorship “preposterous” in a statement issued Monday.
“Selectively editing this transcript is preposterous. We know the shooter was a radical Islamist extremist inspired by ISIS,” Ryan said.
“We also know he intentionally targeted the LGBT community. The administration should release the full, unredacted transcript so the public is clear-eyed about who did this, and why.”