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Secrecy Covered on Citizen Vox

Public Citizen will continue to shine a spotlight on any government attempts to keep secrets from the American people and will cover open government issues on its Citizen Vox blog. Check it out here!

Posted 01-22-2009 10:25 AM EDT

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Presidential Records Are Property of the People

On Jan. 10, The New York Times published a poignant editorial (“Who Owns White House History?”)  that serves as a note to the departing administration, saying, in effect: President Bush – your records belong to everyone! The Presidential Records Act says so!

The editorial also expresses hopefulness that Congress will strike down a Bush executive order that says a current or former president can indefinitely withhold presidential papers.

“If there’s any delay, we urge President-elect Barack Obama to issue his own executive order restoring the Presidential Records Act as soon as he enters the White House,” the editorial states.

Here’s hoping that the era of secrecy is coming to an end!

Posted 01-12-2009 5:09 PM EDT

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Secretive ‘Til the End

The lame-duck Bush administration is in its waning days, but its fondness for keeping secrets is as strong as ever …

On Jan. 9, Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected the administration’s push to keep identities of White House visitors secret, according to The Associated Press.

The judge also said the government illegally disposed of Secret Service computer records.

The ruling was the latest step in a years-long battle for access to the visitors’ logs. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, requested the records in 2006.

Posted 01-12-2009 5:06 PM EDT

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The Presidential E-mail Caper – This Time, the Good Guys Win!

On Nov. 10, a federal judge ruled that Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and the National Security Archive can pursue a lawsuit that seeks to retrieve millions of possibly missing White House e-mails.

The government had argued that courts do not have authority to order the White House to retrieve the e-mails. The government requested that the case be thrown out, according to an Associated Press story published in The Washington Post. U.S. District Judge Henry Kennedy rejected this request.

The ruling is “a clear victory for the American people. The Executive Office of the President does have to answer for the missing e-mail,” said CREW executive director Melanie Sloan in the Post.

Posted 11-13-2008 4:13 PM EDT

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Bush Secrecy: The Next Chapter?

Will the Bush administration’s penchant for secrecy continue, even when the president leaves office in January?

A Nov. 13 New York Times article suggests that it might.

It appears that a precedent exists for doing so: After President Harry Truman left office, a congressional committee subpoenaed him.

Truman claimed that – even though his term had expired – he still had the authority to block such subpoenas. And Congress backed down.

Therein lies the fear that President George W. Bush will do something similar.

“The Bush administration overstepped in its exertion of executive privilege, and may very well try to continue to shield information from the American people after it leaves office,” said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in the Times. Whitehouse is a member of the Senate Judiciary and intelligence committees, which are examining Bush policies.

Posted 11-13-2008 3:47 PM EDT

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