It’s A Long & Winding Paper Trail

bush-clinton-library-opening.jpg After You!

In Newsweek Michael Isikoff has some new information on access to the Clinton White House papers, but wanders off into myth and misinformation on how the law, the Clintons and the Bushs came to this point.

The one thing Isikoff has is Archives documents showing that Clinton’s wishes on withholding documents are, shall we say, thorough.

No doubt the Clinton’s are interested in controlling their image and access to their papers, but this article’s brush with the state of the law on public access doesn’t help explain much.

Unlike what Isikoff says, the 1978 Presidential Records Act favored release and disclosure. The prolonged and extensive review by ex and current Presidents and their effective veto power on release is the creation of George W. Bush. Isikoff does say that Bush is under challenge in Federal Court in a convoluted wording, but his piece understates what a departure from existing law Bush made.

The Clintons are not a unique case, they are just the most recent battle over access to the record. And their interests allign with the Bush’s more than either party will acknowledge.

Isikoff’s mistaken summary of the state of law is at the bottom of his story:

“(Under the 1978 Presidential Records Act, the former president and the current president get to review White House records before they are disclosed. Either one can veto a release.) Ben Yarrow, a spokesman for Bill Clinton, says the former president was referring “in general” to a controversial 2001 Bush executive order—recently overturned, in part, by a federal judge—that authorized more extensive layers of review from both current and former presidents before papers are released. (Hillary’s campaign didn’t respond to requests for comment.)”

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