Video: State Dept. Official Literally Laughs at Idea of 'Transparency and Democracy'

P. Gardner Goldsmith | August 5, 2016
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One rarely steps along a secure path when he or she tries to discern the motives or meanings behind the actions of another. We need clear signals, especially when looking at the political world and its often silly players.

With that in mind, it’s a good thing Deputy State Department Spokesman Mark Toner gave us some easy options when he outright laughed at the idea that he or the department would be transparent or exemplars of “democracy.”

At the opening of his press conference on Thursday, August 4, Mr. Toner approached the microphone, welcomed the audience and a few “interns” in the back (one wonders if they're being paid that magical $15 per hour minimum wage the feds keep telling everyone else is so important for civilized society), and then said:

“Good to see you in this, uh… exercise in transparency and democracy…”

Then he began laughing so hard he had to close his eyes and lean away from the mic.

Funny, huh? Busting a gut. So, sooo funny.

It's even more humorous when one looks at the hubristic, arrogant track record of the State Department - especially since the beginning of the Obama Administration. A few folks might have noticed this president’s promise that his would be the “most transparent Administration” in US history was, well, not quite kept.

Not only did Hillary Clinton destroy many of the government communications she conducted on her private server, the State Department itself has repeatedly attempted to stop Freedom of Information Act requests for information on department activities and communications, and recently moved to delay release of further e-mails until 2018 in response to a lawsuit by Citizens United.

As Josh Gerstein noted for Politico in June:

“Citizens United President David Bossie called the delay State requested this week ‘outrageous’ and explicitly accused the agency of trying to cover for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.”

That’s probably a sound assessment.

Citizens United is encountering the same kind of resistance and subterfuge that Judicial Watch has run into while trying to obtain information from Mr. Toner and his pals at the Department of State.

It took a Judicial Watch lawsuit, a court order, and another year before Mr. Toner’s buddies coughed up information about Mrs. Clinton’s Blackberry devices in March.

And it took another court order in June before the State Department allowed Judicial Watch to see Inspector General investigation records related to Mrs. Clinton’s e-mail records.

And that’s all just deliciously, side-splittingly humorous.

It appears that Wikileaks will facilitate transparency about the actions of the State Department before the State Department will. In fact, it is only because of Julian Assange and courageous reporters like Seymour Hersh that a handful of Americans know about Mrs. Clinton’s involvement in the funneling of weapons, not only into Libya to overthrow Gaddafi, but also into Syria and the hands of radical groups that killed innocent people and joined ISIS.

It seems peculiar that a spokesman for this, the “most transparent Administration,” laughs about these matters. But we ought to step back for a moment. Perhaps, he was laughing not from hubris or arrogance, but out of embarrassment and shame.

Then again, when was the last time we witnessed politicians offering any kind of believable expression of shame?