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Open Government, What Open Government?

UPDATE, 4:00 P.M. ET: After the letter circulated widely on the Internet, Rep. Obey changed his mind and will now allow cameras into the conference committee proceedings.

Original Post:

Radio and television reporters who cover the House aren't so pleased with Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (Calif.) notion of transparency. After the Democrats won control of the House, Pelosi promised to make Congress "the most open...Congress in history."

Why, then, are the Democratic powers that be prohibiting cameras from covering this afternoon's House-Senate conference committee meeting on the war spending bill? (That's the bill President Bush has threatened to veto -- if it includes a timeline on withdrawing troops from Iraq.)

Officers of the Radio-Television Correspondents' Galleries and the Executive Committee of Correspondents sent a letter today to Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, asking - basically - why ya shutting us out?

"Despite the fact that there is not a space constraint in the meeting room, HC-5, and the fact that these conference committees historically have been open to all media, the Executive Committee does not understand the justification for today's restrictions," writes Steve Chaggaris of CBS News, the chairman of the executive committee.

Chaggaris says not only does the prohibition on cameras "create an uneven playing field for the press" - giving the advantage to print reporters - the rule "does not live up to your Speaker's post-election promises of transparency."

"In addition, today's conference committee meeting is about the Iraq war, which was arguably the issue that propelled your party into the majority during last year's elections. Shouldn't the American public be allowed to see how the new Democratic Congress wants to spend taxpayers' money on this war?"

We'll let you know how Obey responds and whether cameras will prevail today.

By Mary Ann Akers  |  April 23, 2007; 2:00 PM ET
 
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Comments

Once again the Democrats have been caught saying one thing and doing the exact opposite. What a bunch of liars. Speaker Pelosi should be impeached for this. Speaker Pelosi lied and people have been mislead into believing this tragedy never had to be. Impeach Pelosi and Reid.

Posted by: Matt, VA | April 23, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Matt, I take it that you would agree then that Bush should also be impeached, considering he's been caught lying numerous times ("I never said our strategy was stay the course...", "I never said Saddam Hussein was behind 9-11...", "nobody anticipated the levees would breach in a hurricane") and is running the most secretive administration in history in which the Attorney General (you know, the guy who's supposed to represent truth and justice) can't keep his story straight and his underlings take the Fifth when questioned. After all, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, right? Or are you just being partisan?

Posted by: jt | April 23, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Not to mention that the VP's chief of staff Scooter Libby is heading to prison for perjury and obstruction of justice, the head of the White House contracting office (David Safavian) has been indicted for taking bribes, Karl Rove's White House assistant Susan Ralston is being investigated in the Jack Abramoff scandal, and Karl Rove himself only escaped being indicted along with Libby by explaining that he "mis-spoke" in his grand jury testimony. This White House doesn't really have the credibility to call anyone else a liar.

Posted by: kevin | April 23, 2007 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I understand Matt's argument -- how did anyone lie? Pelosi and Reid didn't shut off all access to the press, they just didn't allow TV cameras. Photographers and print reporters were allowed in. How is this a lie, much less an impeachable offense? After all, the White House doesn't allow cameras into most of its deliberations and meetings, and neither does the Supreme Court, nor do most state legislatures. So what's the lie?

Posted by: ryan - alabama | April 23, 2007 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Don't bother questioning Matt's logic. He's obivously a partisan hack who's already made up his mind about whose side he's on, the last thing that interests him is whether facts or logic are on his side.

Posted by: freddiefingers | April 23, 2007 5:34 PM | Report abuse

How is this even a story? They banned TV cameras but allowed print reporters, and then when the TV stations complained, they let them in. Is this what passes for news nowadays?

Posted by: rodin2457 | April 23, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

FYI Kevin -- Safavian wasn't merely indicted, he was convicted of lying to investigators.

Posted by: PTBarnburner | April 23, 2007 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Matt,
Just follow the advice of one of your Republicans; "Just say no to drugs"!

Posted by: Chris, Malmo, Sweden | April 23, 2007 10:42 PM | Report abuse

ha, transparency then must be total!
bring it on!
Is this what we want? Do you supporters of Bush or the democrats or even Republicans want total transparency?
Do you?
I do.

Posted by: Rich Rosenthal | April 24, 2007 12:18 AM | Report abuse

THE UNITED STATES SENATE OF AMERICA AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES **THE CONGRESS** AS

WELL APROVED SUBPOENAS.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-----------------------**** LET THE GAMES CONTINUE

****--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-------------------------------------one down **Kyle Sampson** --- two down **MONICA

GOODLING** --- three down **Michael J. Elston** --- FOUR down **JUSTICEDEPARTMENT ARCHIEF

THOUSANDS OF FIRINGPAPERS AND EMAILS NOT HANDED OVER TO CONGRESS,GONZALES SUBPOENAED TO

DELIVER BY MONDAY 2.00 HOURS** --- --- 5 DOWN William Moschella** --- 6 DOWN Scott

Jennings _ to reveal their roles in the firings --- SEVEN DOWN **Rove's deputy, Sara

Taylor** --- **GONZALES IS ABOUT TO RESIGN,AND OTHERWISE WILL BE SEND AWAY BEFOR MAY, BY

CONGRESS SO WE MAY CONSIDER HIM DOW** --- AND MIERS*S VERTICAL SMILE WILL CHANGE IN A

GRIME ONES SHES INDICTED ** OUR COMMANDER IN THEFT AND CHEAT WILL LEAVE US SOON **SOONER**

NOW THAT WE HAVE DISCOVERED THE PHONY ANONIMOUS ITALIAN LETTER SPELLED IN FRENCH THAT

CHEATED US IN AN UNNECESSARY WAR !! EARLY ELECTIONS ARE ON THE WAY...I.E. BEFORE THIS

SUMMER. AND LET US BE CLEAR ALL PERSONS BELONG TO THE GROUP OF EXTREME CHRISTIAN

REPUBLICAN TERRORISTS !!! Rep Specter says: **Gonzales is a problem by not remembering

facts of the firings 72 times,he is hurting the justice department, no says Prez

BU_ll_SH_it, yes says Gonzales I stay. No says the American people YOU GO AND STOP

POLITICIZING THE AMERICAN JUSTICE SYSTEM!!

Posted by: jwh | April 24, 2007 12:48 AM | Report abuse

Why don't you go get your Constitution, and show me the part where you can impeach the Speaker of the House?

Just go ahead, take your time...

We'll be waiting...

Posted by: Kyle | April 24, 2007 1:24 AM | Report abuse

Oh, there are so many issues in the blog comment about Obey and the appropriations conference and TV coverage. First, I don't recall the Committee of Correspondents complaining during previous Congresses when Republican members of the conference met privately to agree on a deal and then only met in public to announce to the Democrats that their opinions were not required. Presumably, since the Democrats are never as organized as he Republicans, the Dems don't have a deal worked out and would muddle their way through to a deal in an open conference session. Obviously, they would not want to show their divisions too much on television. However, it is unfortunate, that Mr. Obey, one of the great reformers in House procedure during the 1970's, has become less comfortable with openness now. Perhaps everyone can reach a deal and just let in a CSPAN pool camera to those rather large meeting rooms on the west side of the Capitol. Now, if everybody in the room, Republicans and Democrats alike can just keep from posturing for the television cameras and thinking up juicy sound bites for local television coverage, maybe he conferees can actually finish their work.

Posted by: Paul Rundquist | April 24, 2007 4:05 AM | Report abuse

All politicians, no matter their affiliation, lie, exagerate, obuscate and spin to support their primary goal of staying in office. The greatest flaw in the U.S. Constitution is the failure to limit terms for elected representatives. The framers probably thought that no one in their right mind would want to make a career of politics. It was changed for presidential terms of office, but there will likely be no internal congressional support to apply such a change to their branch of government.

Posted by: r man | April 24, 2007 7:06 AM | Report abuse

Oh, yeah?!?!

Posted by: Matt | April 24, 2007 7:54 AM | Report abuse

Yew dimocrats wil nott bee sattisfied untill wee ar awl forsed too ggit seks chaynges and martch doun mane streete whyle eatin freshlye abortted babiees and recyting the Commynist Mannifesto . sined, a reel AMMERIICCAN!!!!!

Posted by: MAX REDALIA | April 24, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I think you all missed the sarcasm provided by Matt.

Posted by: LOL | April 24, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

VP Cheney seems raring to hunt. Already on the 24th he is on the hill calling for Reid's hide. Watch the press run for cover and revert to the behavior of cage raised quail. Veepazilla stalks again.

Posted by: J. Koch | April 24, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

This Bill is so watered down from what the people on the left really want that I can't see wanting to hide it from anyone other than their own constituents. They probably feel that the Republican owned TV Networks will only destroy what is left of the majorities wishes regarding the illegal occupation of Iraq.

Posted by: Bill Poirier | April 25, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

See,President Bush, he changed his mind, and DID the right thing., he listened to the people who voted him in., I guess, to you, we don't count anymore., I guess, you know what we want., well I will be voting this time! I will not miss this one! I will be thinking of everything you did for my sons, who have served and are still serving., I will be thinking of my other son's mother, who served when I served, and can't get no benefits, because where she is they want a paycheck! don't care about people., scared of YOUR policies!!! I used to work for the VA in Boston and I stayed at the VA Shelter for Veterans there, and who help us? Joseph Kennedy! and you better be glad he is not running, He is the ONLY who might could beat Senator Hillary Clinton! I will always vote for a Kennedy, they are the BEST!!! I also worked at the Veteran Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia-and man? have you screwed up a Nation., A GREAT NATION! How can one man screw up what President George Washington did, when he left a blue print for it. old knowledge is the best knowledge, President Bush, are are you 10 and at the helm? I also help set up the Veteran Center in Savannah Georgia, when I was going to a Vocational School in Data Processing., after I left the Army in June of 1985! we used to go to the VA and get an ID right then, now you have to wait 10 years, and after your dead, your grandson picks it up for you., thank you, Mr.President. Let me tell you something? I grew up in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri., when on base, the wives taught us., in Waynesville,Missouri, I went off base by bus., I was hoping to stay in Germany, it was like professional football, we went to other bases in Germany and played., and if you left one base, where ever you went, you knew the people., unless your dad, changes Arm Forces., not to many women in those days. BUT WE WERE THE BEST ARMED FORCES IN THE WORLD!!! not police in an arab nation. We Were Ready To Fight! I say to ready, I became an alcoholic, and some other things, but in the field, I trianed HARD!!! Now, both my son and daughter in law have been to Iraq and are back, and she is out, getting ready to have my grand. and I will tell them their heritage, and do them like my grandmother did, you are going into the Army, my brother-Navy. I will not tell you about my cousins,female and males-nor will I tell you about Vietnam,Korea,WWII,WWI,Civil and Indian, back to the Revolutionary and that is just here in the States, and I am a Blackskin MAN, but I AM A MAN!!! and I am not the only one-there are many of us? and alot of Military Sons and Daughters, because it is all we know!! I lived at Ft.Belvior,VA., in Germany, been all over Europe, my children have traveled further then me. and what kind of benefits do you give them-do 30 years instead of the 20, pay for you medical and dental, no housing what so ever? a job of priority-Mr.President Bush? YOU SHAME ME!!! Janair Williams Sr.

Posted by: Janair Williams Sr. | April 25, 2007 3:07 PM | Report abuse

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