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. Kevin in Ohio

    What is the president hiding? Visits from the myriad of questionable associates of the past? Ayers? Wright? Dorn? ...... if the backgrounds of most of his "czars" is any example, I would not be surprised at all. We want to see the logs that already exist! Some "transparency"!

    September 4, 2009 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  2. randy

    What a bunch of criminals, chicago thugs in Office it is disgusting.

    September 4, 2009 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  3. Right Leaning Independent

    Yup, this administration that promised transparency is as transparent as mud!! One more promise broken...

    September 4, 2009 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  4. Colie Brice

    So much for transparency..

    September 4, 2009 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  5. Steve (the real one)

    Why not make it retroactive? What's to hide? Where is the transparency? Move broken promises? Pelosi claimed she would usher in transparency and honesty in the House. Her handling of Rangel proves her wrong! The "new sheriff in town" is packing only water guns and shooting blanks. What's she polling, again?

    September 4, 2009 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  6. GI Joe

    Hmmm – seems like this admin. is getting a lot of flack and criticism for what was done the previous 8 years.

    Where were all these complaints while W and Shooter stripped us of our personal privacy and held their secrets so close?

    Oh – sorry, they're the "family value christian group".

    September 4, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  7. Vigla

    Once again, this administration has proven that ethically, they are lightyears ahead of the previous one.

    We're still waiting to find out who visited the white house during the "energy meetings" prior to the Iraq war and skyrocketing oil prices. I can only imagine the deals struck at those meetings...and people are upset with how Obama is running things? Please!

    September 4, 2009 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  8. Fair is Fair

    Last time I checked, the White House belongs to the citizens of the United States. So tell me, Obama... why are you hiding who was there prior to September 15? Afraid your dealings with Big Pharma are going to come to light? You know... the Big Pharma who got into bed with you to the tune of $150 Million?

    Meanwhile, here comes the "but... but... but... Bush..." postings.

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

    Why should the current logs, and the logs going back to Jan not be released? What is the President hiding? All the communists he has had visiting in the White House? We already know that.

    September 4, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  10. Harry Jones

    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."

    So why don't they insist on all previous logs ? Like, from January 22,2009 to now. What kinda open, transparent administration is this anyway ?

    September 4, 2009 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  11. Wake Up

    Obama is such a worm. Who was in the White House before sept. 15th? 51% approval rating? 30% That are brainwashed by Obama's clever lies, and and 21% that are left-wing marxists.

    September 4, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  12. Paul from Phoenix

    He promised this during the campaign. I wonder how many names were scrubbed in the last 8 months.

    Personally, I don't care who visits the White House. But if you are going to make the promise in the campaign, you better follow it. Like the promise to get the troops home, or to be bipartisan, or to pass health care, or to keep unemployment under 8%....

    September 4, 2009 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  13. Dale in Michigan

    The Democrats crawled all over the Bush Administration but doesn't think the same applies to them? Open and transparent......HaHa!

    September 4, 2009 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. Rush

    What do I care about Democrat timber?

    September 4, 2009 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. R in Maine

    So the fascist party wishes to harass anyone who visits the White House. Ask me if that is a surprise. Dick Cheney would like to have them waterboarded. I think that anyone who gets a copy of this report should be obligated to publish that they have done so.

    September 4, 2009 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  16. Hugo

    Future logs, what about the prior logs evidencing all the "business" going on? No more pork, no more lobbyists, no more special interest, draining the swamp known as Congress! RIGHT! More like a radical left liberal minority driving a train without a Captain!

    Transparency you can believe in, what a crock!

    September 4, 2009 09:23 am at 9:23 am |
  17. Jack CArlson

    We'd prefer the list of visitors prior to Sept 15th – it would make us sick I'm sure.....Van Jones and others you know ?
    Obama's agenda, which would surprise alot people, will not succeed as the American People don't want HIS tranformation of American – we want the Constitution.
    Jack C

    September 4, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  18. diridi

    fix health care with public optin..first and then talk..

    September 4, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  19. Nancy - Houston

    Hummmm; aren't we still waiting on the Bush/Cheney visitor logs to be released? It appears Pres. Obama is being singled out on this, among other things. This smacks of Repub. losers again. I'm also appalled at the behavior of Repubs. over the objections to Pres. Obama's planned speech of encouragement to school children. We didn't hear a "peep" out of anyone when Bush spoke to a college graduating class and bragged on how far he had come as a "C" student. (He didn't mention that he also had a well-oiled machine). If I had my choice of brains, I know which one I would choose to cheer my kids on in getting a good education. Repubs are really showing their behinds on this one; they are sore, sore, sore, losers!!

    September 4, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  20. Jack CArlson

    No doubt Jeremiah Wright, Ayers and others bums were there.
    Jack C

    September 4, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  21. Steph

    This administration has taken transparency to a new high. However, the critics (who can complain about a "back to school – work hard, stay in school" message from THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, will continue to complain and create lies. I've had enough with the Republicans who have no respect for the office of the President. Even if you don't like the man, respect our democratic process. He is the president. He will be for at least the next 4 years (maybe even 8). Get used to it. The hate in your heart will kill you.

    I don't remember any Democratic government official boycotting an address by Pres. Bush. And President HW Bush and Reagan both gave back to school addresses, and no "liberal public education-types" refused to let children watch in schools. Not allowing school children to hear a prepared (and distributed beforehand) back to school speech is absurd and a disservice to school children. What are they telling is OK not to respect authority?

    September 4, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. Andi

    I'm not sure what the issue is, here. There never was much interest in the visitor logs when we had white Presidents.

    September 4, 2009 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  23. Chispter

    Yet, we'll probably still never see the Bush White House logs or know who was on Cheney's Energy Task Force. The Bush Administration's unprecedented secrecy brought lawsuits and orders to release information – orders that were simply defied or ignored. Where were all the howls from the public then?

    President Obama has, in the short time he's been in office, begun opening the windows and letting the sunlight into the dark corners. Information is available on the White House and other websites, including the Library of Congress. National security interests will still prevent access to classified information but there has already been progress toward allowing the "people" to know what's happening in their government.

    September 4, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  24. CONNIE

    why not all of them since he took office, if it was Bush the press would be demanding or taking them to court to get the names that visited.
    this admin needs to be watch very closely, my Freedom is at risk.

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

    I think any president, republican or democrat, should have the logs released. The citizens need to know who is visiting our leader to ensure there isn't funny business going on. I wonder who got visits in prior to the upcoming September 15th.

    September 4, 2009 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
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