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White House Releases Name Of Every Visitor For First Time Ever

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The White House also released an additional set from before the policy went into effect covering from Obama's inauguration Jan. 20 to Sept. 16.

It is the first full release of the names since the Obama administration settled an open government lawsuit with a promise to disclose all visitors with limited exception.

The TPM team has detailed two previous releases of names, but those were in response to specific requests from media outlets and open government interest groups. Those document dumps yielded interesting data points - from Colin Powell meeting privately in the Oval Office with Obama as he was deliberating about his Afghanistan strategy to the fact that SEIU's Andy Stern is among the most frequent visitors.

They are the first administration in history to release the names of people who have visited the White House. Read through our coverage of the release here.

Norm Eisen, special counsel to Obama on ethics, detailed the release in a blog post.

He writes:

"The volume is enormous because we are not just answering specific requests for records -- we are disclosing thousands of folks who come and go here daily. We will do this on a monthly basis, with the records for the full month of October being posted in 30 days.

This release represents a milestone in the President's commitment to change Washington. The President believes that this and our many other transparency initiatives promote accountability and keep American democracy vital.

We are excited about the visitor records policy not only because we are breaking new ground for this Administration but also because we are establishing a new standard for all future administrations. We know of no comparable initiative in the history of the White House. Indeed, previous Administrations fought for years to protect just a handful of records -- far less than we are putting out for any single day of the month.

Eisen said the White House released about 2,000 pre-Sept 16 records in response to specific requests.

"As part of our new initiative, we offered to look back at the records created before the announcement of the policy and answer specific requests for visitor records created earlier in the year," he said, a response to nearly 700 requests from the public in November.

Like other releases, keep in mind that among the thousands of visitors there are people who share names with celebrities or controversial figures such as Jeremiah Wright.

Earlier this year in a compromise move the White House agreed to start collecting for public consumption the names of all the visitors to the campus.

They are the first administration in history to do so, and the decision was hailed by open government groups as a step forward, though some wanted clarification for who would determine which visitors names would be kept secret under the limited exceptions clause the White House left in place for security concerns.

Eisen noted this in his post today:

"We are still processing a small set of the September records to ensure that their release will not compromise national security. We expect to conclude this review shortly and will release any additional records with next month's posting."

Ed. note: This post has been updated to correct an error.

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