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Ari Melber

Ari Melber

Posted: April 21, 2009 11:51 AM

Cheney Urges Transparency for Obama at 100 Days


It's not too soon anymore. As President Obama nears his 100th day in office, the political and media assessments of his administration are piling up, including this Nation event in Washington on Wednesday.

Now sure, many people say the "100 days" frame is a bit tired. But it's also useful. We can step back from the crush of hourly stories -- the pirates and puppies, the budgets and bonuses -- to consider the larger policies and priorities of this administration.

The American Prospect recently took this tack in reviewing Obama's record on transparency -- a big campaign promise. There is impressive change, in reforming freedom of information policies and releasing the torture memos. There is also more of the same, however, with the administration deploying a radical reading of the "state secrets privilege" to deny torture victims their day in court. In fact, Obama's transparency record is drawing new fire from a very unlikely source.

Dick Cheney is now urging Obama to be less secretive.

On Monday night, the former Vice President announced that he was "formally" asking the administration to release secret documents that, he says, show the utility of torture. (The Fox News interview is here.) I asked Sen. Claire McCaskill about that request today, during a panel at a George Washington University conference. McCaskill said she was surprised to hear "Cheney" and "transparency" in the same sentence, but she supported Obama's increased transparency and is open to the declassification of further documents.

Other members of Congress on the panel, including Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Democrat Steve Israel, also voiced some support for Obama's transparency agenda thus far. Israel stressed that if anything, the country needs even more government information and debate on torture. He also cited Twitter messages he is now receiving about Jay Bybee, after Israel announced his support for impeaching the judge, who authored memos advancing torture.

We'll dig into these issues much further at our Wednesday event, with Rep. Donna Edwards, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Chris Hayes, William Greider, John Nichols and Deepak Bhargava. If you have questions or ideas, comment below and I'll share them with the moderator. (I posed several citizen questions from Twitter to Sen. McCaskill and other members of Congress on today's GWU panel.) If you live near Washington, of course, drop on by.

And with his newfound interest in open government, maybe Cheney will be there, too.

Ari Melber writes for The Nation, where this post first appeared. More information on The Nation's Obama @ 100 event is here.