White House Visitors: A public privilege
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD
Well, well. It looks like what's good for the Democrats is not so good for the Republicans. Remember how President Clinton's opponents used the White House's visitor logs to learn about a bunch of stuff Clinton would much rather have kept on the down-low (a list of donors, Monica Lewinsky's visits, fundraisers, etc.)?
Now, the Bush administration is seeking to keep the visitor logs under wraps, even as a federal appeals court seems to question the legitimacy of the argument that the visitor records being protected under executive privilege (as White House documents) and out of the public's hands for about a decade. In December, another federal judge ordered that the records, kept by the Secret Service, be released. The Associated Press reports that, "If released, the documents would show how often prominent religious conservatives visited the White House and Vice President Dick Cheney's residence, allowing a glimpse into how much influence they exerted on government policy."
Gosh. What, specifically, is the Bush administration trying to hide? One judge on the panel tried to get to the bottom of it when he asked, "What in the documents are so quintessentially presidential?" He didn't seem to accept that the name of a visitor was to be protected.
"That's a public building. You can stand out on 17th Street and watch who goes in and out," said the judge. We hope that the courts ultimately see that citizen groups have a right to know who is glad-handing the president and why.
I cannot wait for the new administration to start looking into this. The members of the current administration took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution; instead, they have treated it like it was an American Flag at a rally led by Islamic Rage Boy. Bring on the special investigations; bring on articles of impeachment; bring on aggressive interrogation techniques: the country is a war and extreme measures are called for. I'm sure Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Ashcroft, et al., wouldn't mind a little fun, frat-boy prank style.