Are We Entitled To Know Who Visits The White House?

October 21, 2009

We may not know the answer to this question for a while. The U.S. Secret Service has denied a request from Judicial Watch to release White House visitor logs from the first eight month’s of this administration. In a letter dated October 8, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security took the position that these records are not “agency records subject to the FOIA,” but rather “Presidential Records[that] remain under the exclusive legal custody and control of the White House Office and the Office of the Vice President.”

In January, a U.S. District Judge ruled that the Secret Service must release these documents pursuant to FOIL. The Obama administration appealed that decision, but later dropped the appeal in settling an action brought for release of visitor’s logs brought by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).

This could lead to a legal showdown. According to Judicial Watch, “Just because the Obama White House says FOIA law doesn’t cover White House visitor logs doesn’t make it so. The Obama administration is not above the law,” said president Tom Fitton in the release. “These visitor logs are subject to release under FOIA and the courts have affirmed this. Judicial Watch has no intention of abandoning its pursuit of these records. We will go to court, if necessary.”

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