Shining A Light - The White House to Release Visitor Logs
by Charles Lemos, Fri Sep 04, 2009 at 04:45:18 PM EDT
It perhaps took some prodding but in the end the Obama Administration is honoring one of its key and not insignificant campaign promises - that of government transparency. After an internal review, the Obama Administration will make publicly available the visitor logs to the White House with certain national security exceptions. Kudos to the President and the Administration for doing the right thing.
The story from the Washington Post:
Reversing a policy embraced by previous presidents of both parties, the Obama Administration will make public a listing of visitors to the White House.
The White House characterized the move as another step in making the Administration more open.
"For the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be made available on an ongoing basis," President Obama said in a statement. "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."
Under the policy, the Obama Administration will post online the names of White House visitors from the previous 90-120 days. The only names withheld under the policy would be people being considered for high-level appointments, such as Supreme Court candidates. Visitors whose known presence at the White House would pose a national security risk also are exempted under the policy, the White House said.
The decision to release the visitor logs comes after ongoing lawsuits prompted an internal review of the policy that started in the early days of the Administration. The new policy promises to provide more information about the people who come to the White House in hopes of influencing decision-making.
The review of the policy was prompted by a series of lawsuits by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The suits were settled Thursday with the White House promise to make the visitor information public.
Previously, the Obama Administration had refused to release the visitor records, a decision that was in line with Bush administration policy. But after the review, the White House decided to alter its stand.
"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," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. In contrast, the Obama Administration -- by putting visitor records on the White House web site -- will have the most open White House in history."
Transparency, it is how government works.