Wednesday, December 30, 2009

White House Gets More Transparent with Visitor Logs and Declassification

Obama and national security team

According to Obama's policy set forth earlier this year, Obama is making good on his promise of transparent government, releasing names of visitors. These visitor logs have gotten wingnuts out of sorts because they've made stupid assumptions about the names on the list. But if you want to peruse the list for yourself, visit here. Remember, some of the names, such as Bill Ayres, isn't THE Bill Ayres. Don't jump to conclusions.
Today’s release also includes visitor information for the Vice President and his staff at the White House Complex. Consistent with the voluntary disclosure policy, the Office of the Vice President is releasing the names and dates of visitors to the Vice President’s Residence for official events between Sept 16 and Sept 30, and the visitors to the Residence who appear on the daily schedules of the Vice President and Dr. Biden. At this time, it is not possible to release visitor information for the Vice President’s Residence in an identical format to the White House Complex because the Residence is not equipped with the WAVES system that is in place at the White House Complex. The Vice President’s staff is working with the Secret Service to upgrade the visitor records system at the Residence. When the electronic update is complete, visitor information for the White House Complex and the Residence will be released in a common format.
Today’s release is only one example of the many steps the President has taken to increase government transparency over the past year. This Administration’s concrete commitments to openness include issuing the Open Government Directive, putting up more government information than ever before on and, reforming the government’s FOIA processes, providing on-line access to White House staff financial reports and salaries along with the President and Vice President’s tax returns, adopting a tough new state secrets policy, taking steps to improve policies concerning controlled unclassified information, reversing an executive order that could have previously limited access to presidential records, issuing an executive order to speed declassification and reduce over-classification, reaching an accord to restore White House emails from the previous Administration and webcasting White House meetings and conferences. The release also compliments our new lobbying rules, which in addition to closing the revolving door for lobbyists who work in government have also emphasized expanding disclosure of lobbyist contacts with the government. More at WH
Yesterday, Obama also moved to declassify certain government information:
President Barack Obama on Tuesday ordered the federal government to rethink how it protects the nation's secrets, in a move that was expected to declassify more than 400 million pages of Cold War-era documents and curb the number of government records hidden from the public.

Among the changes is a requirement that every record be released eventually and that federal agencies review how and why they mark documents classified or deny the release of historical records. A National Declassification Center at the National Archives will be established to assist them and help clear a backlog of the Cold War records by Dec. 31, 2013. More at MSNBC