Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, June 15, 2007

Re-opening access to presidential papers

The right to know, Austin American-Statesman, June 15, 2007.  An editorial.  Excerpt:

With the strong support of U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, Congress may repeal one of the worst abuses of power in the Bush administration.

In his first year in the White House, Bush issued an executive order giving presidents, vice presidents and their heirs the power to block the release of White House records. That order sealed White House records that have been public dating back to the Watergate scandal that brought down the Nixon administration in the 1970s.

Acting on the public's right to know what government is doing, Cornyn, a Senate committee and an overwhelming majority in the House of Representatives support a repeal of Bush's order making White House records secret. The repeal act passed the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee this week and goes before the full Senate next.

Bush, whose administration embraces secrecy at every turn, has vowed to veto the repeal act. But the House version of the law, HR 1255, was approved by a veto-proof 333-93 vote in March. Senate Homeland Security Chairman Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., said the bill may have to be amended in the Senate but it could pass by a veto-proof margin as well....

Bush over-reached when he ordered White House records sealed from public view indefinitely. Congress is right to vacate that order with an act making those records public after 12 years, as they have been since 1981.

The Senate should make that position clear to Bush with a vote as resounding as the House vote, one that assures a Bush veto will be overridden.

PS.  Hear, hear.  For background, see my blog posts from 2002 on Bush's executive order.  Sen. John Cornyn, of course, is the Senator from Bush's state and party who introduced FRPAA last year.