Hillary Clinton’s Secret White House Papers

Yesterday my post on Clinton’s experience was cross posted at The Carpetbagger Report and there was a comment from a reader claiming that this line is untrue: “It is also notable that, although she is running on her experience, she is keeping the records from her years as first lady secret until after the election.”

The accusation, which is based upon false claims from the Clinton’s, is that it was George Bush’s restrictions on records which is responsible for keeping Clinton’s records secret and that the Clintons have actually been trying to get the records released. As this Clinton myth is still widely believed I thought it was worthwhile to also here post this information from Newsweek which I used to debunk this claim and prove the validity of the statement in my post:

Bill Clinton has tried to cast blame for the backlog on the Bush White House. “Look, I’m pro-disclosure,” Clinton said in a testy exchange with reporters during a recent press conference. “I want to open my presidential records more rapidly than the law requires and the current administration has slowed down the opening of my own records.” But White House spokesman Scott Stanzel tells NEWSWEEK the Bush White House has not blocked the release of any Clinton-era records, nor is it reviewing any. (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.)

But documents NEWSWEEK obtained under a FOIA request (made to the Archives in Washington, not the Clinton library) suggest that, while publicly saying he wants to ease restrictions on his records, Clinton has given the Archives private instructions to tightly control the disclosure of chunks of his archive. Among the document categories Clinton asked the Archives to “consider for withholding” in a November 2002 letter: “confidential communications” involving foreign-policy issues, “sensitive policy, personal or political” matters and “legal issues and advice” including all matters involving investigations by Congress, the Justice Department and independent counsels (a category that would cover, among other matters, Whitewater, Monica Lewinsky and the pardons of Marc Rich and others). Another restriction: “communications directly between the President and First Lady, and their families, unless routine in nature.”

Archives officials say Clinton is within his legal rights. But other Archives records NEWSWEEK reviewed show Clinton’s directives, while similar, also go beyond restrictions placed by predecessors Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, neither of whom put any controls over the papers of their wives. This undoubtedly reflects the larger policy role Hillary played in her husband’s administration. Still, some analysts are surprised at the broad range of documents Clinton asked the Archives to withhold. “It does sound pretty expansive. You start to wonder what’s not included,” says Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy. Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group suing the Clinton library for failing to respond to its FOIA requests, is struck by the former president’s restriction on records relating to his and his wife’s families. That, he says, blocks disclosure of records relating to Roger Clinton, the former president’s half brother, and Hillary Clinton’s two brothers, Tony and Hugh Rodham, both of whom were involved in controversial business deals and efforts to secure last-minute pardons later investigated by Congress. But John Carlin, a former Archives chief (and a Clinton appointee) who got the 2002 letter from Clinton, didn’t blame the former president. “Given all that they went through in office,” he says, the restrictions Clinton placed were “not surprising.” Who knows, he asked, how the papers might be used by political foes? That’s a question the Clintons don’t want answered—at least not before next November.


  1. 1
    alex says:

    I really enjoy reading your blog, it always has great insight. But I am very frustrated with the media’s lack of questions to the presidential candidates about global warming. Now that it is down to just a few candidates I would think that this would be a bigger issue.

    Live Earth just picked up this topic and put out an article ( http://www.liveearth.org/news.php ) asking why the presidential candidates are not being solicited for their stance on the issue of the climate change. I just saw an article describing each candidate’s stance on global warming and climate change on earthlab.com http://www.earthlab.com/articles/PresidentialCandidates.aspx . So obviously they care about it. Is it the Medias fault for not asking the right questions or is it the candidates’ fault for not highlighting the right platforms? Does anyone know of other websites or articles that touch on this subject and candidates’ views? This is the biggest problem of the century and for generations to come…you would think the next president of the United States would be more vocal about it.

  2. 2
    Bostondreams says:

    Great post! Definitely a link I’m saving!

  3. 3
    Skeeter Sanders says:

    Hilary’s in total freakout mode now. As of today (Tuesday, February 26), Obama has surged into the lead in Texas and is now within five points of overtaking her in Ohio.

    That outrageous photo of Obama that’s been linked to her campaign has triggered a firestorm of backlash against Clinton — including the retaliatory posting by Yours Truly on my own blog today of a newspaper story revelaing that Clinton, way back when she was still Hillary Diane Rodham and a lawyer in Arkansas, fiercely defended a rape suspect by attacking the credibility of his alleged victom — a 12-year-old girl.

    You can read the article for yourself:


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