Put Down the Vapid Rhetoric and Step Away from the Camera

A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.

Barack Obama, Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies
January 21, 2009

So if one were interested in documents pertaining to the Obama administration’s decision put the Census in the hands of Rahm Emmanuel, they would exercise their rights under the Freedom of Information Act. Except that:

Congress, federal courts, and parts of the Executive Office of the President that function solely to advise and assist the President, are NOT subject to the FOIA.

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Of course one, could get some documents from the Department of Commerce however, as Byron York notes:

They will want to know how the census move came about. There were undoubtedly discussions between officials in the White House and on Capitol Hill. There were undoubtedly discussions between the White House and some outside activist groups. Between the White House and the Commerce Department. And discussions inside the Commerce Department itself, where — who knows? — some career professionals might have opposed the idea.

The results of those discussions, and possibly disagreements, were likely committed to paper and e-mail. And those papers and e-mails might answer the question of whether there was, in fact, a political motivation behind the census move.

Of course, none of that from the White House side is available to the public.

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