08/14/2005: Presidential Control Freaks...
Bush using own rules with Roberts: Through an executive order, the White House is controlling which documents about the Supreme Court nominee will be made public; by Michael Tackett (Chicago Tribune Washington Bureau chief):
”….So take a look instead at an action for which the president is solely responsible, namely Executive Order 13223 that Bush signed Nov. 1, 2001.
The order empowered the president to control the release of a former president's records even if the former president wanted the records to be open to the public.
The effect of the order was to render nearly meaningless the Presidential Records Act of 1978, a post-Watergate era law that was designed to give the public access to many presidential papers 12 years after that president had left office.
But the issue goes beyond the ritual partisan carping.
Consider just one voice. Thomas Blanton, executive director of the National Security Archive, a research organization that specializes in obtaining government records, said that Bush's executive order "turned the law on its head. The law said that the national archivist makes the decision on release after consulting the former president. The executive order took that authority away from the archivist, gave the former president no deadline for objection and replaced the archivist with the White House counsel's office."
And now that order is having a direct impact, not on a historian's inquiry, but rather on one of the most important decisions that Bush has made.
"The order put the White House in the position of being able to manipulate the release of those documents," Blanton said. "And you get the selective release of the documents. It's remarkable that the Congress and the judiciary are sitting there while an executive order trumps a law. The control-freak aspect of this should be scary to all citizens."
Karen on 08.14.05 @ 10:04 AM CST