September 4th, 2009
11:04 AM ET
5 years ago

White House to release visitor logs

President Obama plans to announce Friday that the White House will release its future visitor logs on a regular basis.
President Obama plans to announce Friday that the White House will release its future visitor logs on a regular basis.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama plans to announce Friday that the White House will release its future visitor logs on a regular basis, two administration officials said.

The announcement follows a legal settlement with the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which had sued the administration for release of visitor logs, the group announced on its Web site.

Since taking office, the president has been criticized for refusing to release some of the logs, including those relating to health care and coal company executives.

The new policy will apply to visitor logs created after September 15 - not to previous visitor logs, according to an administration statement outlining the policy that CREW posted on its Web site. The future logs will be released 90 to 120 days after the meetings, and there are some exceptions.

In his announcement Friday, the president plans to say, "For the first time in history, records of White House visitors will be made available to the public on an ongoing basis," according to a written statement obtained by CNN.

"We will achieve our goal of making this administration the most open and transparent administration in history not only by opening the doors of the White House to more Americans, but by shining a light on the business conducted inside. Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process."

CREW's executive director, Melanie Sloan, issued a statement saying, "The Obama administration has proven its pledge to usher in a new era of government transparency was more than just a campaign promise. The Bush administration fought tooth and nail to keep secret the identities of those who visited the White House. In contrast, the Obama administration - by putting visitor records on the White House web site - will have the most open White House in history."

CREW describes itself as "dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials - regardless of party affiliation - who sacrifice the common good to special interests."

The White House policy laid out in the document on CREW's Web site says the administration will not release records that would threaten national security or relate to purely personal guests of the Obama or Biden families. The administration will also withhold those related to "a small group of particularly sensitive meetings" such as potential Supreme Court nominees, butwill disclose each month how many such meetings there were, and will "release such records once they are no longer sensitive."

Visitor records for Vice President Biden at his residence can not be collected in identifical format because different systems are in place, but Biden's office will release guest lists for official events, the document says.

As for logs of visitors before September 15, "the White House will respond voluntarily to individual requests," the document says, "but only if the requests are reasonable, narrow, and specific."

– CNN's Ed Henry contributed to this report.


Filed under: White House
soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. demwit

    See! Full transparency.., just like Obama promised!!

    September 4, 2009 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
  2. CL OT

    Ok, we will let you know the names of all visitors except the ones we don't want you to know about. And you can't have the list of visitors before now. Great job Obama... What a mistake!!!

    September 4, 2009 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  3. mjm

    WOW! Another historic moment! Imagine that!

    Meanwhile, unemployment hit 9.7 in August.

    I thought they were creating and / or saving 500,000 – 750,000 jobs?

    Let me guess...it takes time to undo the damage caused by Bush.

    Can Obama ask Bush how he kept the unemployment rate below 7 for 6-7 years?

    But at least we have the white house logs!

    September 4, 2009 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  4. Tiff of lithia springs

    I think the rest of the country is upset about his speech to children in the schools because they didn't think of it first. But if the attempt of the speech is to motivate our kids to do their best at getting an education then I'm all for it.

    September 4, 2009 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
  5. Seattle Sue

    Now if Cheney would tell who was at his energy meeting in early 2001.

    September 4, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  6. Malia

    Why aren't you reporting on the radical past of Van Jones, the Green Jobs Czars? No wonder more and more Americans are turning to Fox News for fair and balanced news.

    Dems have greatly damaged their image with their radical views.

    September 4, 2009 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  7. Jim in Florida

    The Obama Transparency

    Not unless you are willing to sue them.

    Change, uh huh...

    September 4, 2009 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  8. Marty, Grand Rapids MI

    And it took a lawsuit for that? I guess change is change, sometimes you need a nudge in the right direction.

    September 4, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  9. Tom

    Why not all of the logs??? Some transparency.
    If a republican did this the media would have a field day.

    September 4, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  10. Party Purity will never bring Political Power!

    Too bad the Bush administration was never this transparent, they refused to release any of them due to "executive privilege".

    This is a good change instituted by President Obama.

    September 4, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  11. Aspen Professor

    Out of curiousity, how many "logs" did Bush – Cheney reveal?
    Do you remember the secret meetings with the oil companies and Cheney?

    September 4, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  12. Robin

    So he will have "transparency" when he entertains his Hollywood Elitists friends. Oh joy.

    September 4, 2009 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  13. TCM

    in typical Chicago mob fashion, they're be two sets of Visitor logs; one to pacify the public and one for the administration.

    September 4, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  14. Stuffit

    Congress members are probably more apt to read these than to actually read the legislation they are passing.

    September 4, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  15. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)

    Everyone should make two $10 donations: one to the ACLU (sued to get the docs on torture released to the public) and one to CREW.

    September 4, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  16. A. Goodwin

    Good news, and good for the Obama administration. It would have been great to have the logs back when Bush and his cronies were selling the American public on the war in Iraq! We could have at least seen when Robert Novack came and went!

    I'm sure the Rethuglican's will find a way to bash this policy. They can never see the good in anything! But then again, they seem to be an uneducated group of individuals who cling to old mentalities/ideaologies.

    September 4, 2009 09:40 am at 9:40 am |
  17. Jon

    why logs AFTER 9/15? what is he trying to hide?
    let's hear it for the most transparent administration ever!

    September 4, 2009 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  18. Chris ~ Albany, NY

    Hey...it's better than nothing...we still don't know who the shrub and cheney met with 8 1/2 years later!

    September 4, 2009 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  19. T22

    "We will achieve our goal of making this administration the most open and transparent administration in history not only by opening the doors of the White House to more Americans, but by shining a light on the business conducted inside." They forgot to add "once we get caught not doing so." Note that they'll do it in the future, when they can monitor and scrub these logs, but not for the past 8 months.

    September 4, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  20. Outraged

    Why doesn't he release the past visitor's log? Transparency?

    By the way. What is this garbage about moderating comments?
    Are you afraid someone will say something bad about your dictator?
    Your equivalent of Jim Jones? Post only propaganda you find appropriate?

    September 4, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  21. Julia from North Carolina

    There are so many important things to concern us these days – why do we need to know who visits the White House? Bush and Cheney left or hasn't the word gotten out?

    September 4, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  22. Burns NH

    Big deal,might just as well not release anything. To much stuff
    going on in secret. Answers to questions not being responded
    to. Must be the shadow government in action. Truth needs to
    prevail Mr. president.

    September 4, 2009 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  23. MT

    So why only after a "legal settlement" did our Commander and Chief decide to release the visitor logs (list of lobbyists)?

    Isn't this the transparent "change" that President Obama campaigned on.

    In the end its more access and oversight, but its a shame it took a "legal settlement" to make it happen.

    September 4, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  24. New Age Democrat

    Why not the previous visitor logs? Is he hiding something else which will be damaging? And what kind of exceptions in the future?

    This is NOT the transparency that we voted for...

    September 4, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  25. William

    What exactly is transparent about not releasing the logs prior to September 15?

    September 4, 2009 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
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