Obama Appeals Judge's Decision that Visitor Logs Are Subject to FOIA

Helen Whalen Cohen

10/16/2011 12:40:00 PM - Helen Whalen Cohen

Remember President Obama's promise that he would preside over "an unprecedented level of openness in government"? Well, the most transparent Administration ever is appealing a judge's decision that White House visitor logs are subject to FOIA.

 

The Obama administration is appealing a judge's ruling that Secret Service records of visitors to the White House complex are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Justice Department filed a formal notice of appeal Friday afternoon regardingU.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell's August ruling rejecting arguments that the so-called WAVES records belong to the White House even though they are maintained and used by the Secret Service.

The decision to appeal the ruling to the D.C. Circuit would appear to be in tension with Obama's repeated pledges to operate the most transparent administration in history. The White House announced in Sept. 2009 that it was voluntarily releasing the names of most White House visitors from Sept. 15 forward. However, the conservative group Judicial Watch sought information on visits before that date.

Obama was quick to criticize Bush for keeping visitor logs secret, but clearly this is a 'do as I say, not as I do' situation. What else would you expect from a president who accepts a transparency award behind closed doors?