In a clear break from the George W. Bush White House, the Obama Administration has agreed to release its White House visitor logs, giving the American people a remarkably candid look at who is meeting with the President and top advisers. The logs will be released on a three to four month delay, and there will be exceptions that will remain secret, as USA Today, which broke the story, explains.
Exceptions would be made in cases of national security, extreme confidentiality — such as a visit by a future Supreme Court nominee — and strictly personal visits to the first family, including daughters Malia and Sasha.
Still a major step forward. In the past visitor names have been released usually as the result of legal proceedings, but they were not disclosed as a standard practice. Bush, who maintained that the records were protected under the Presidential Records Act, was forced to give up information about how often the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff visited the White House. The ethics group, Citizens For Responsibility And Ethics In Washington (CREW), which originally sought the disclosure of the records, cheered the Obama White House decision.
“The Obama administration has proven its pledge to usher in a new era of government transparency was more than just a campaign promise. The Bush administration fought tooth and nail to keep secret the identities of those who visited the White House. In contrast, the Obama administration – by putting visitor records on the White House web site – will have the most open White House in history. Because visitor records will now be available online, CREW dismissed its lawsuits.” Sloan continued, “Providing public access to visitor records is an important step in restoring transparency and accountability to our government. CREW is proud to have been part of this historic decision.”