On Friday, September 4, 2009 the White House took another step toward transparency with the announcement of a new policy to voluntarily disclose White House visitor access records. Starting on September 15, the White House will make available online the records of visitors from the previous 90-120 days.
In announcing the policy, the President said,
For the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis. We will achieve our goal of making this administration the most open and transparent administration in history not only by opening the doors of the White House to more Americans, but by shining a light on the business conducted inside it. Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process.
While we’d like to see less time pass between the records’ creation and public release, the White House deserves our applause for this important step toward increased openness of the Executive Branch.
At the same time, the White House announced that it had settled four pending cases requesting specific White House visitor records, including records from the Bush Administration. The Bush Administration had refused to release the logs, claiming that they were not agency records of the Secret Service, but rather presidential records and therefore exempt from the Freedom of Information Act’s mandatory disclosure requirements. AALL opposed the Bush Administration’s position and we are pleased with the release of these records. Read more about the specific records that were sought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
[Posted by Emily Feldman]