Friday, January 05, 2007

Bush Admin Makes White House Visitor Records Disappear

Paul Kiel at the Muckraker asks:

What do you do when there are public records showing the details of visits by a corrupt lobbyist and his associates? If you're the Bush White House, you do what you do best: make them disappear!

From the AP:

The White House and the Secret Service quietly signed an agreement last spring in the midst of the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal declaring that records identifying visitors to the White House complex are not subject to public disclosure....

The five-page document dated May 17 declares that all entry and exit data on White House visitors belongs to the White House as presidential records rather than to the Secret Service as agency records. Therefore, the agreement states, the material is not subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

In the past, Secret Service logs have revealed the comings and goings of various White House visitors, including Monica Lewinsky and Clinton campaign donor Denise Rich, the wife of fugitive financier Marc Rich, who received a pardon in the closing hours of the Clinton administration.

The memo last spring was signed by the White House and Secret Service the day after a Washington-based group asked a federal judge to impose sanctions on the Secret Service in a dispute over White House visitor logs for Abramoff.

We've snagged a copy of the memo for you to read here.

The basic thrust is this: despite the fact that the Secret Service makes and keeps the visitor records, they're not really Secret Service records (even though they'd been treated that way in the past), they're White House records, and thus not subject to FOIA. Got that?

That's one more addition to our great disappearing info list. We're up to 29!


Blogger liberal journal man said...

I'm almost surprised they didn't tie the release of the records to emboldening the terrorists or undermining national security.

4:57 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Do you think that there will come a time when some younger person will ask us: but how could they get away with it? Where was the outrage?

I'm reminded of the McCarthy era -- when extremism was tolerated for far too long. I've said before that the blogosphere was one of the few places where the spark of rational thought, the love of free speech and the belief we all must be subject to the rule of law was sheltered from being extinguished. As Brad DeLong said, "we are the Edward R. Murrows of today. It's up to us (broadly construed "us," of course)" to make sure that "It Can't Happen Here.

5:32 PM  
Blogger liberal journal man said...

That is precisely what will happen. The Iraq war is a repeat of Vietnam and the war on terror is a repeat of the Cold War. We're repeating all of the same mistakes. And domestically, our technological capability for surveillance makes this an even more perilous proposition now.

Maybe when we're old and gray we can blog about how we blogged about how evil these actions were. And maybe by then we ALL would have learned from the mistakes of the past.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

We can only hope that you're right. But the attention span and the curiosity level of your average TV viewer/voter is goldfish-like and that doesn't inspire confidence. As usual, I'd like to be wrong...

5:13 PM  

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