White House on new 'stealth path'

A newly disclosed effort to keep vice-president Dick Cheney's visitor records secret is the latest White House push to make sure the public doesn't learn who has been meeting with top officials in the administration.

White House on new 'stealth path'

The drive to keep the logs secret, the administration says, is essential to assuring that the president and vice-president receive candid advice to carry out their duties.

Cabinet officers often don't want to give up their meeting calendars to journalists. They have no choice under the Freedom of Information Act (FIOA), which provides public access to some records kept by federal agencies. But the FOIA disclosure law, which doesn't apply to Congress, also doesn't apply to presidential records. The Bush administration has exploited that difference, triggering a battle in the courts.

The administration is seeking dismissal of two lawsuits by a private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, demanding Secret Service visitor logs.

In trying to get the cases thrown out, the Justice Department has filed documents in court outlining a behind-the-scenes debate over whether Secret Service records are subject to disclosure. The discussions date back at least to the administration of president Bush's father and involve the Justice Department and the National Archives as well as the White House and the Secret Service.

Christopher Lehane, a former special assistant counsel to president Bill Clinton, said, "The question it raises is 'What are these guys hiding?'" White House spokesman Tony Fratto said on Thursday, "I can't comment on a case in litigation, and I can't speak to the decisions made by other administrations." "It is important that the president be able to receive candid advice from his staff and other members of the administration," he said.

The Times Of India

Last Mod: 02 Haziran 2007, 14:02
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