Bush Secrecy Finally Being Challenged

With all the post-9/11 hysteria, few paid much attention to George Bush’s executive order of 2001 restricting access to the papers of former presidents. I’ve always been surprised by how little opposition there has been to this move. Finally there is mention in the media, but in the books section of The New York Times. The article reviews how attempts by researchers to uncover details of recent history are being obstructed:

Now lawmakers and scholars are hoping to pry open the gateway to such archival documents by lifting what they say has been a major obstacle to historical research: a directive issued by the current Bush White House in 2001 that has severely slowed or prevented the release of important presidential papers…

President George W. Bush’s 2001 executive order restricted the release of presidential records by giving sitting presidents the power to delay the release of papers indefinitely, while extending the control of former presidents, vice presidents and their families. It also changed the system from one that automatically released documents 30 days after a current or former president is notified to one that withholds papers until a president specifically permits their release.

While Bush could get away with such actions in 2001, the political atmosphere has changed and Congress might take action:

Today the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is scheduled to discuss a new bill that would overturn Mr. Bush’s order, said a committee spokeswoman, Karen Lightfoot. The sponsors, who include the committee chairman, Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California, hope to bring the bill to the floor of the House next week.

I wonder what Bush might be hiding in his father’s papers, and what he doesn’t want to be seen in his own papers.

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