Bush Denying Access To "The Dustbin Of History"?

locking trash can

Some of us progressives have comforted ourselves that after the Bush administration is over, the history books will finally tell the truth. Not so fast. History News Network (George Mason Univ.):

The Bush administration’s Executive Order 13233 underscores the new fact that presidential legacies, once the domain of academic historians and parlor game aficionados, have become a serious business — so much so that a president has mounted a Kremlinesque campaign to stifle the free dissemination of information. The Bush administration is playing for keeps.

Bush’s Executive Order 13233 could change history — literally — by restricting historians’ access to materials that help them document and ultimately judge a president’s actions, lapses, and principles.

Executive Order 13233 gives ex-presidents nearly unlimited discretionary authority to prohibit the release of their papers, and allows them to name designees who can act in their stead. Moreover, a sitting president may also prevent the release of a predecessor’s papers — as Bush has already done with some of Ronald Reagan’s papers — even when the predecessor has authorized his papers’ release. These are radical encroachments on the public’s access to documents that were produced in the public interest, at public expense, by officials elected by the public. Citizens can challenge these decisions in court, but the expense and time commitment will discourage most people from trying.

A House-approved bill that would undo this blatant assault on openness has been held up in the Senate. Even if the measure advances, there is no guarantee that Congress could override Bush’s expected veto.


The bill reversing this travesty is advocated in Public Citizen's online letter for your Senator.

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