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

White House to release visitor logs

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. jim

    He won the presidency on saying that, "this is a new age of transparency;" yet he does not want to show who is coming and going at the white house. He his acting just like presidents before him who actually think the white house is their house. The white house is paid for by the taxpayers, the up keep is paid for by taxpayers. So seeing as how we are paying for the white house we need to see who is coming and going.

    September 4, 2009 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. Can you see me now?

    Transparency? Only when it's politcally expedient.

    September 4, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  3. farid shakur

    two thirds of healthcare can be paid for from monies found in line item budget items so let the people who want a public option have it by giving them id's and the people and their children who don't want the public option would not get the id's and they wouldn't have access to public health care, but all others would, this is an easy solution make it happen!

    September 4, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  4. Minnesotan

    Ah, transparency that Bush and his evil cronies never allowed. They were too busy screwing up the country, starting a false war, making epic failures on the economy, giving tax breaks to the rich and making dirty deals behind closed doors. Bravo, Obama! Keep up the good work and give the wingnuts enough rope to hang themselves!

    September 4, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    We are acting like spoiled children. We are not ready for the responsibility that comes with transparency, We think that transparency means that we have to know EVERYTHING. That is not so. As someone else mentioned, we elected our leader, give him the room and the ability to lead. Stop second and triple guessing his every move when you DON'T HAVE A MOVE to contribute.

    I personally don't need to know all of the ins and outs. So long as it is legal and nets us the results that will benefit us as a nation, I'm cool with it. Negotiations, some of them sub-rosa, are part and parcel of doing business and establishing liasons with other naitons. What can we contribute to that discussion except the distinct possibility of blowing it for everybody.

    September 4, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  6. Jim Voigh

    A lot of people in this country love Obama to pieces (including my family members). He is eloquent, he made history, he is courages, etc, etc., but there's nothing wrong with holding your Government accountable.

    Blaming everything on the previous administration started to sound like a broken record about 3 months ago already. There is nothing wrong with holding this administration accountable where appropriate (and I think this is one of those instances).

    September 4, 2009 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. plow

    No one should criticize Obama because when Bush was president he...

    In case anyone didn't notice, Bush isn't president anymore. That argument's going to run out long before 2012, you're better off addressing the criticisms than blaming everything on Bush and Vader.

    September 4, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  8. SoWhat

    Who cares? They could rebuild the whitehouse out of glass and you people you people would still complain.

    September 4, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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