By Danielle Brian
Come to find out, Monday's meeting between myself, four other open government advocates, and President Obama wasn't listed on the White House daily schedule. Surprising, considering that the first meeting was listed on that calendar, and the President even noted that we would be listed on the White House visitor logs.
As I told The Washington Post, it was sheer stupidity that the meeting wasn't listed on the calendar. But this was not exactly a "secret meeting," as some reports have implied. It had been on the President's public daily schedule when it was initially slated for March 16. We had expected that the rescheduled meeting would be open to the press—but it is an overreach to say that the integrity of the meeting was compromised when we found out (right before the meeting) that it would not be open to the press. A White House videographer was taping the meeting, and we understood that video footage of the event would be available soon. I also thought that between the five of us—most of whom had planned ahead of time to write about the meeting—we'd have it pretty well covered.
There are plenty of reasons to criticize Obama and his administration for their shortcomings in the open government arena—issues much bigger than the mistake of not putting this meeting back on the calendar once it was rescheduled. If the hullabaloo over our meeting with the President has focused attention on these bigger issues, even better.
So, while it's upsetting the way the White House bungled an opportunity to practice the transparency that it preaches, I stand by our reason to meet with the President—both to thank him for his commitment and highlight our priorities for what still needs to happen—and reject the notion that our principles have somehow been compromised by the meeting. I'm encouraged that it might produce tangible results in advancing important open government initiatives.
Danielle Brian is POGO's Executive Director. Read her first post about the meeting with the President here.