American presidents and their staff work for the American people, they are not monarchs with an inner court of priviliged nobles. President Obama ha
January 22, 2009

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American presidents and their staff work for the American people, they are not monarchs with an inner court of priviliged nobles. President Obama has reminded all his predecessors of that simple fact, living up to a campaign promise to "nullify attempts to make the timely release of presidential records more difficult."

President Barack Obama, in his first full day in office, revoked a controversial executive order signed by President Bush in 2001 that limited release of former presidents’ records.

The new order could expand public access to records of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in the years to come as well as other past leaders, said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. …

Under Bush’s order, former presidents had broad ability to claim executive privilege and could designate others including family members who survive them to exercise executive privilege on their behalf.

Obama’s new order gives ex-presidents less leeway to withhold records, Aftergood said, and takes away the ability of presidents’ survivors to designate that privilege.

Separately, an Obama memorandum issued Wednesday also appears to effectively rescind a 2001 memo by President Bush’s then-Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft giving agencies broad legal cover to reject public disclosure requests.

Over at MoJo blog, they quote CREW chief counsel Anne Weismann as explaining:

"[Obama]'s putting former presidents on notice that if you want to continue a claim of executive privilege that [Obama] doesn't think is well-placed, you're going to have to go to court."

Even Ed Morrissey at Hot Air is impressed, writing "On Inauguration Day, I promised to offer praise for Barack Obama when he pursued good policy, and it didn’t take long." At least one other conservative thinks this executive order is "nothing more than him throwing a meaty bone to his constituency who hopes to be able to find out “The Truth” about the Bush administration’s alleged plans to turn this nation into a dictatorial theocracy." That's simply mean-spirited hyperbole, hiding an implied argument. Who would really want to argue, out there in plain words, that stopping Bush's bosses (the American people) from finding out what's in millions of his administration's emails is a good thing?

Crossposted from Newshoggers

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