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. Monica

    Most transparent administration EVER! What a joke.

    September 4, 2009 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  2. Ryan in Iowa

    Who cares going forward, his past visitors is what scares the sh............ out me. There is a long list of vile people that I would not asscociate with.

    September 4, 2009 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  3. Kevin in Chicago

    You know something, people are wanting to know too much! The White House is a command center for our nation's affairs... economic, domestic, international and defense. Sometimes what goes on at the White House needs to be kepted quiet for National Security reasons. The World Wide Wed is just that... World Wide. Enemies of our nation can interpret increased activity and alter plans of attack, etc. Americans have gotten too bold and want to know too much. You elected an individual to lead, trust him in his leadership. Both Opposing parties should get alittle more respect for the office of the President and quit trying to tear the nation apart after your political losses. 350 Million people are counting on around just 500 people in all to do what's right for EVERYONE... Grow Up! Act like Adults for once!!!

    September 4, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  4. Jobs Jobs Jobs

    How about the White House 'releasing' those 4 million jobs they promised by the end of summer. Is that President Pelosi's job too since she is the head and Oblunder is just the tail?

    September 4, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  5. Tamara

    Interesting that this only applies to the current administration. What about the energy execs that the Court allowed Cheney to keep secret? We also seem to think that American teachers cannot have their students watch a presidential address today, even though this has never been an issue in the past. What is different today....! I wonder.

    September 4, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  6. Ron In California

    I remember the Democrats went NUTS over the Bush administrations refusal to divulge visitors logs. You remember Cheney and the oil Barons sitting around plotting the destruction of America. Where is the same outrage for Obama sitting around plotting with the drug companys? Seems Obama has the market cornered on destructive policies.

    September 4, 2009 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  7. Rubie

    This is meaningless unless they release Prior visitor records. I think it would be hillarious to see the visit of George Clooney who ' just happened to be wandering around the White House one Sunday evening (during the Academy Awards as I recall) and just happened to dump into the Pres who spontaneously decided to invite him into his office' Riigghhttt..... because actors frequently meander through the halls of the White House bumping into VIPs...and Clooney never raised millions for Obama's campaign in Europe, right? And Clooney has no political interests regarding, say, Darfur, right? Amazing what this administration expects us to swallow.

    I don't trust this administration one bit and no matter what they do from this point forward, I never will. And where's the story about the Van Jones fallout?

    September 4, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  8. Sniffit

    Eat that, GOPers. I'm sure you'll be screaming like banshees, but that's ok...the louder you complain, the more right we know we are.

    September 4, 2009 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  9. Sniffit

    "identifical format"

    Wow...I mean, I know the media likes to sort of invent "news" most of the time, but now you're inventing words too? Cool.

    September 4, 2009 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  10. LIP

    As long as he doesn't rent out the Lincoln bedroom like Clinton did, then who cares what he does or who visits. He is President and can bring whomever he wants into the place.

    September 4, 2009 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  11. Greg

    Transparency wouldn't mean special provisions for release of the logs, waiting 90-120 days before release, or involve exceptions based on purely subjective criteria... I guess the definition of 'transparency' depends on "what your definition of 'is' is!" Right, Bill?

    September 4, 2009 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  12. PJH

    How wonderful, it only took being sued to release the records. That is some transparency.

    September 4, 2009 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  13. inofritzn

    Hey kinda sound like Bush era stuff... politics = poly(many) + tics(blooding sucking scavengers)

    September 4, 2009 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  14. lgccac

    Does this include Communists?

    September 4, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  15. Fed UP

    Just like the TRANSPARENCY ADMINISTRATION to hide all the people he has been doing business with since coming into office. I guess he doesn't want people to connect all the entites he has given payoffs to for their getting him into office. Like the multiple indicted group ACORN who he is putting in charge of the 2010 Census. Let's just get it over with and impeach him for the treasonous liar he is.

    September 4, 2009 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  16. Nick

    Hah, what a joke that Obama's trying to take credit for being open and transparent for doing this. First, these records always used to be open to the public prior to Bush's years – they just weren't online ever. Second – why won't he realize the records prior to Sept 15th? Third – he didn't do this voluntary – it was a legal settlement.

    September 4, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  17. Damien

    Obama is going to appoint an Appointment Czar to handle this?

    September 4, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  18. Marc L

    What's he hiding? Perhaps we will see that there really isn't much change after all.

    September 4, 2009 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  19. "Victim" - Often Used, Rarely True

    That's cool. Can we also see the visitor logs from the Bush administration to see how many times "Bandar Bush" visited prior to and following 09/11/2001. Or the Bin Laden family. Or the ocupants on the only other plane in the sky besides Air Force One that day, strangely on it's way to Saudi Arabia.

    Where were the hijackers from again? Iraq? No, Saudi Arabia.

    September 4, 2009 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  20. Biff

    lame, release the earlier logs....transparent gov. ring a bell? change we can believe in...yeah right.

    is it too late to change my vote? buyer's remorse is setting in.

    September 4, 2009 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  21. CREW is the American Taliban

    More frivilous lawsuits by wingnut conservatives.

    September 4, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  22. mma

    Funny how no logs before 9/15 will be released. Shady. The obama administration is seriously like watching a season of Real World on MTV.

    September 4, 2009 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  23. Hannah

    Well, we won't see Jeff Gannon's name on that list this time around. The gay that was discovered in the press room w/o a press pass who visited bush numerous times and on occasion stayed the night.

    September 4, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  24. Calipublican

    This is the man who campaigned on change and "greater transparency in the White House"......and American's, not to mention the media just lapped it up with a spoon. What's he hiding?...Plenty. Joke's on us people...

    September 4, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  25. angelo caputo

    The law is the LAW, where does he get off doing what he wants to do. HE above all others in Our country are told to obey the laws. Should we just follow this presidents actions? Enough is enough, act accordingly MR. PRESIDENT, AFTER-ALL, even I was fooled into voting for you,you are not a man your words, please change before you do too much damage to this great country.

    September 4, 2009 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
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