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. Classy 57

    Why not all logs to date? What is this president hiding from us?

    September 4, 2009 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  2. JJ in NY

    Why is Obama not releasing the visitor logs for the last 7 months ?

    What happened to open and honest and transparent ?

    I guess those only apply to campaign slogans....just cheap talk .

    September 4, 2009 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  3. Joe Smoe

    This is another CRAZY don't know what you would call it, why do some people have to know every cotton picking thing you'all want your privacy why can't other people have theirs yeah its the white house but good golly give somebody a break, I bet these very people are so private with their lives they would shudder at the thought of someone wanting to know every detail of who came to visit

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

    To bad the administration that promised to bring transparency back to the white house needed a lawsuit to force them to do it.

    September 4, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  5. Bubba

    How about the past records just to keep it all simple?

    September 4, 2009 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  6. Barbara G

    Yes, this administration will be open, only as open as it want's to be. We the people do not trust the Government and it doesn't matter what you say we will believe only half.

    September 4, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. donttreadonme

    Visitor records? What is next an internet camera, mic. and 24 hour surveillance? Grow a pair Mr. President.

    September 4, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. The Lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Unemployment continues to rise, dispite 650,000 workers dropping off the count due to their benifits running out in August. As per CNN own story from 08/07/09...

    Out of work, out of benefits, out of luck
    By August, 65% of all filers for unemployment insurance will have run out of their standard 26 weeks. And that's just the beginning.

    Yes the multi bailouts promised to save main street has done nothing to that effect, the only thing we have saved is the rich corporate executive's bonuses.

    September 4, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  9. Tim

    good to know our fearless leader barack will now release records as to who visited the White House...only after a law suite. Wonder if they will be scrubbed before being released. I'd also like to know how much of our tax dollars were spent for visitors like Tiger Woods or The Steelers to visit barack. Are we paying for our president's social time? In a recession? Record high unemployment...Change You Can Believe In.

    September 4, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  10. Patrick

    People are going to cry foul on this, I'm sure, but it seems practical.

    Just by thinking about it, I can see that the easiest way to deal with this would be just what they were doing, saying no. With the amount of people that visit the white house, I can see the grading of visits by sensitivity to be labor intensive.

    September 4, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  11. Biff

    did Van Jones visit during that time? what has van jones been up to lately? I guess while they are opening up investigations to the CIA interrigators they can investigate the Bush administration inside job on 911.

    September 4, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  12. Scott, Tucson

    Just when will Obama release his other records, he was always talking big about his WH is going to be so transparent but I guess that was a campaign lie too.

    September 4, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  13. Gary

    Did Bush and Cheney ever release the vistor logs that were requested while they were in office? Seems like there was some ruckus kicked up when Cheney held secret meetings with international oil company executives at the White House.

    September 4, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. katiec

    Typical CNN.
    Support, support, support the republicans with your headlines and continue to bring down our president, the democrats and anyone
    who doesn't want the continuation of big business running our country.
    At least Fox is in the forefront with their bias, but you try to hide
    behind "news you can trust". Unfortunately, some people do not
    realize we cannot put any merit on what you print and say.

    September 4, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  15. Jim

    If Bush fought tooth and nail and Obama is open and transparent, then tell me again why they had to go to court to release the records? Tell me again why they aren't releasing the records prior to 15 Sept? There must have been tons of health care interest groups that they don't want us to know wonder tort reform, medical malpractice insurance, and allowing us to buy insurance across state lines aren't issues worth discussing.

    September 4, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  16. Jeff

    Gee, where's all the media outcry about the "secretive" Whitehouse?I'm sure the names that are damaging (such as communists, radicals etc etc) will find a way to be left off the list.

    September 4, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  17. Michael Huppman (Pennsylvania)

    Where was CREW during the Bush Administration?

    September 4, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  18. Peter

    Hmmm...But it's okay for the former White House to refuse to tell the public which energy company execs, etc. came in to chat at length with Darth Cheney.

    September 4, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  19. Larry of Massachusetts

    Obama is hding something – why else would he refuse to release the logs prior to September 15th? Maybe because it would show all the bank lobbyists, the insurance company lobbyists, the auto industry private meetings, and the pharmaceutical company private meetings. This is a cop out If Obama is going to have an open administration, open up all visitor logs since he took office. Otherwise, Americans will rightfully believe he has something really bad to hide

    September 4, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  20. Ryan

    ...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."

    -So we're never going to know about the healthcare visits and the coal company visits that would impact healthcare reform andcap and trade? Real transparent.

    September 4, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  21. Little Change from Obama

    What happened to the so-called "Transparency".

    Obama's out right lies and half-truths are worse than Bush ever thought of being!

    September 4, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  22. Mike in SA

    Pu-lease. So basically the White House said "Now that we've already had all of our SEIU, auto union, green energy, GE, ACORN, media, drug company, and AARP cronies over, secretly meeting on the stimulus boondoggle, cap-and-tax, GM/Chrysler bailout/acquisition, and health system overhaul, creating deficit spending totaling a trillion dollars a year indefinitely...sure now we'll show you our logs, but only going forward."

    Can't believe CREW just lapped that up like little kittens. To say they've lost a lot of credibility with this fawning response would be an understatement.

    September 4, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  23. Mark from Louisiana

    If obama was so concerned about transparency why won't he release the visitor list of people who have been there since the first day he was in office. Did those names suddenly get lost?

    September 4, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  24. E.C.Coleman sweet and considerate, obama.

    Visitor Logs to The White House now made Public???


    What the American Citizens would Prefer to See Released are





    September 4, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  25. Aaron

    What? Obama is better then Bush? Get out!

    September 4, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
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