- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 11, 2008

EXCLUSIVE:

President-elect Barack Obama over the weekend scrubbed his transition Web site, deleting most of what had been a massive agenda for his first term that appears on his campaign’s site.

Gone from Change.gov are the promises on how an Obama administration would handle 25 agenda items — from Iraq and immigration to taxes and urban policy — which the campaign first laid out on the Web site www.BarackObama.com.

As The Washington Times first reported Monday morning, the official agenda on Change.gov has been boiled down to one vague paragraph proclaiming a plan “to revive the economy, to fix our health care, education, and social security systems, to define a clear path to energy independence, to end the war in Iraq responsibly and finish our mission in Afghanistan, and to work with our allies to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, among many other domestic and foreign policy objectives.”

“We are currently retooling the Web site,” said Obama transition spokesman Nick Shapiro.

The 25 agenda items and Mr. Obama’s action items for each are still available on Mr. Obama’s campaign site.

The Obama team announced Change.gov on Wednesday, but because of an early glitch, the site wasn’t available to the public until Thursday. The agenda items, which were active for at least part of the weekend, appeared to have been deleted by late Saturday.

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During the campaign, Mr. Obama harnessed the Internet with incredible success, communicating with millions of supporters and providing live streaming video of his appearances. Mr. Obama said it was part of his commitment to transparency and is expected to translate much of that to www.WhiteHouse.gov when he takes office.

But political technology professionals said it appeared that Mr. Obama’s team had been too abrupt with Change.gov and didn’t want the new administration tied to the campaign’s list.

“I believe they were a bit out in front of themselves and realized after the fact that they didn’t want to limit their agenda/priorities to what they put on the Web site before they had a clear picture of America’s needs in a postelection environment,” said David All, who as founder of Slatecard.com helped pioneer grass-roots online political donations for conservatives.

Conservative interest groups demanded that Mr. Obama repost his agenda to make it clear where he wants to lead the country.

“Does this represent a shift in Mr. Obama’s position on Iraq?” said Brian Wise, executive director of Military Families United, which advocates for finishing the military mission in Iraq.

Grover Norquist, president of conservative activist group Americans for Tax Reform, blasted Mr. Obama for deleting the agenda.

“This is the opposite of transparency,” he said. His organization posted to its Web site, www.atr.org, a scanned copy of a printout of the “Economy” section of Mr. Obama’s agenda.

Change.gov still contains pages about how to apply for jobs in the Obama administration, biographies of top transition team members and a call for Americans to serve as volunteers and for students to perform 50 hours of community service. The site also has press releases and a transition blog.