Thursday, January 22, 2009

A note on presidential records 

Lefty bloggers and journalists are very excited because President Obama issued an executive order making it more difficult for former presidents to prevent their communications and other records from being released to the public. This is thought to be bad news for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, who are presumed to have done all sorts of evil things behind closed doors. Of course, there is always the chance that the quick release of internal documents will operate to discredit some of the critics or criticisms of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, but perhaps that is wishing for too much. Or maybe not. The order came much too quickly for anybody in the Obama administration to know what might actually come to light.

It is also more than a little possible that President Obama's order may be bad news for Bill Clinton, who (supposedly) made aggressive use of the rule to prevent disclosure of his own administration's records. It will be interesting to see whether the release of blocked Clinton records sheds new light on that administration's responses, or lack thereof, to the rise of al Qaeda (among other subjects that are not yet entirely transparent). On that subject Barack Obama undoubtedly knows quite a bit more from the Clinton alumni in his circle. Or perhaps Bill Clinton and his legacy will get greater consideration from the enforcer of the new policy -- Attorney General Eric Holder -- than George W. Bush will. Indeed, since certain of the blocked records relate to the Marc Rich pardon, it is highly unlikely that Holder (who had a hand in that scandalette) would interpret President Obama's order in a way that would embarrass himself.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 22, 02:55:00 PM:

You raise a fascinating point. Bush seems to generally believe his actions, once understood, will hold up well. Releasing presidential records would probably be required for that to happen. And, Bush isn't likely to present future policy issues or generally make trouble for Obama, so there's really no need to go on the political offensive against Bush.

The Clinton (s), on the other hand, can be expected to present issues and challenges to the administration, and most likely will at some point make presidential days difficult sometimes.

I cannot wait to see who complains about this move, so that we can see who thinks they might have a problem.

Like so many Obama pronouncements, though, I do wonder how well thought out this order really is. The closer in time we are to when a decision was originally made that might be the subject of secret records, the more likely it is that we'll be releasing means and methods that the experienced people in our government think ought to be kept secret a bit longer. I hope Obama is seeking someone who can make counter arguments, and then listening carefully to what they have to say, before making these decisions.  

By Blogger smitty1e, at Thu Jan 22, 02:58:00 PM:

Of course, there is this hidden assertion that the crucial decisions are, in fact, committed to some sort of medium...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 22, 04:06:00 PM:

Leftists are so beyond out of control that they don't think straight.
If Libs believe that George W. Bush is a dishonest man, it just amplifies the lefts inability to judge character. Dodd, Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Byrd, Sandy Burglar, Bill Richardson, on and on and on and on....
Liberals don't care about character, they care about power and control. Idea's trump reality for libs. It's like watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.  

By Blogger Viking Kaj, at Thu Jan 22, 04:12:00 PM:

The primary decision makers on what qualifies and what doesn't under Obama's new policy are the White House Counsel and the Attorney General, both of whom report to the sitting president. I predict that this will be used to release things that are embarrasing to the party out of power, while conveniently protecting past presidents of the same party as the sitting administration. Holder has gone out of his way to protect the Clinton decision making processes in the past, so don't expect a volte face quickly on that stuff. While the former Bush policy applied equally to presidents of both parties, this new policy seems prone to arbitrary decisions to further the goals of the administration in power.

Did I just hear the partisan wratchet engaging?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 22, 06:06:00 PM:

Holder will have to recuse himself from any matter regarding the Rich pardon.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 22, 06:36:00 PM:

Sandy B. took care of embarassing Clinton docs.  

By Blogger Steve M. Galbraith, at Thu Jan 22, 06:55:00 PM:

Tom Blanton and the lefties at the National Security Archive must be in heaven.

Okay, they do some good work but they have a clear agenda.

Even so, if the Bush Administration did something wrong, let it see the light of day.

Same for Clinton et al.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 22, 07:15:00 PM:

Is this intended to throw sunlight on past presidents or is it intended to be used to criminalize opposing views/opinions?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Jan 22, 07:55:00 PM:

Heck, I'll trust that Bush's records will support his actions. But in the spirit of transparency and bipartisanship Obama should get Pelosi and Reid to, I dunno, actually let Republicans get copies of legislation PRIOR to the call for votes. Hey, it's a thought!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 23, 09:38:00 AM:

Just think beyond the current administration - what goes around comes around. Someday Obama will not be in office and someone else will decide what surfaces.  

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