Obama Admin Mimics Bush Again: White House Records Are Secret

June 16, 2009 6:03 am

Add another (perhaps more minor) entry to the list of ways in which the Obama administration is mimicking its predecessor on issues of transparency.

MSNBC.com reports that the Secret Service has denied the news outlet’s request for the names of visitors to the White House since President Obama was sworn in. It also denied a narrower request by the good-government group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington for records of visits by coal executives.The Obama administration — which had promised to usher in a new era of transparency — argues that the visitor logs are presidential records, and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. A spokesman told MSNBC.com that the White House needs to be able to hold secret meetings in certain cases “such as an elected official interviewing for an administration position or an ambassador coming for a discussion on issues that would affect international negotiations.”

But these are the same arguments made by the Bush administration — and twice rejected by a federal judge.

CREW says it will file a lawsuit today.

The Obama administration has also been accused of following in Bush’s footsteps on transparency issues relating to war on terror tactics. It has fought efforts to release photographs and other information relating to the treatment of detainees, and has several times tried to have lawsuits thrown out by invoking the state secrets privilege.

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