Landmark White House Transparency Policy Will Make Visitor Records Public

September 4, 2009 12:00 am

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ACLU Urges Administration To Clearly Define Exceptions

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CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON – In an unprecedented step, the Obama administration announced today that it will routinely make White House visitor access records publicly available. The voluntary disclosure policy will go into effect on September 15, after which lists will be made available of records that are 90 to 120 days old. The first release is expected in December.

The White House has said that some exceptions will apply to records related to personal guests of the president who do not discuss official business, those records which, if released, “would threaten national security interests” and records of “particularly sensitive meetings.”

A similar policy will be enacted for the residence of the vice president.

The following can be attributed to Michael German of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office:

“The White House is the people’s house, and after years of closed doors, Americans will finally know more about who consults the administration on matters of public policy. This is an important and welcome step towards increasing transparency and public accountability.

“While the new policy is commendable, some vaguely worded exceptions to it do raise concerns about the potential for abuse in classifying matters under the umbrella of national security. We encourage President Obama to define these exceptions narrowly and to keep secret visits in the White House to a minimum. The ACLU will continue to hold the administration to its commitment to be, in its own words, ‘the most open and transparent administration in history.'”

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