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. howie

    Have you noticed recently when an issue arrises it is always yes but Bush did this and Bush did that, never addressing the Obama issue. It is always Bush'e fault. Read the comments below and see youreslf.

    September 4, 2009 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  2. Burns NH

    We have a shadow government,just look at all the so called czars
    with records of terrorist and criminal backgrounds."wake up folks"
    and smell the liberties we grew up with vanish..

    September 4, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  3. Jason

    Why do I have to tune in to Fox News in order to find out what's really going on in the Obama White House? I find myself flipping over to FNC more and more just to keep up with the facts. I turn to CNN for the real "fair & balanced" news, but I'm NOT getting it. Come on CNN. Just report the news. Van Jones, the town hall meetings, facts about the Health Care Reform. If I wanted bias, I'd watch MSNBC!

    September 4, 2009 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  4. GP

    Bush/Cheney created the precedent the Obama is following.

    How long until Biden claims executive privilege and that he isn't part of the executive branch?

    September 4, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  5. lou

    If its so "open" why not release ALL the visitor logs even back through the Bush era? Why hide the first few months of NObama's "open" administration visitors?

    September 4, 2009 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  6. kaleto

    "Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process."

    Uh huh. Except, apparently, health care and coal lobbyists who secretly met with him prior to Sept 15; except "sensitive" meetings; except "personal guests"; and except anyone who meets with Biden that isn't an "official event".

    This is transparency??? What hypocrites!

    September 4, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |

    It isn't anyones business who President Obama consults with.Freedom of speech has it's limits as we learned under Bush.

    September 4, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Considering Mr. Cheney spent his entire vice presidency hidden in an undisclosed location, it's doubtful this story ranks much merit in the grand scheme of things important.

    September 4, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  9. whynot

    I would love to see BUSH/CHENEY records. The most inept President and VP in this nations history.

    September 4, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  10. Steve, Columbia SC

    Wow, to see some of you praise the President for releasing the logs. He did it only after a lawsuit, and he won't release logs prior to Sept 15.............DON'T CALL THAT TRANSPARENCY.

    September 4, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  11. Jon

    Why didn't CREW sue the former scoundrels in the White House that hid the visitor logs for eight years? Remember the Cheney "Energy Task F(a)rce" and the skyrocketing oil prices?

    September 4, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  12. BobbyB

    Why not release the lists of those who have already influenced the empty suit? At this point we already know what he is all about. The damage is already done, what's left to hide????

    September 4, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  13. Farrell in Houston

    People stop being played, this ain't about President Obama's visitors log, this is about exposing the past administrations visitor logs; don't forget they are under investigation for the Iraq/Afghan war and torture, contracts, etc.

    September 4, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  14. Michael Huppman

    It's ok for Bush and all presidents before him to not disclose the visitors log, but Obama has to? I've written to Obama asking him to authorize the release all historical White Hose visitor logs.

    September 4, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  15. Sawber

    This is transparency?

    Not releasing previous logs and there will be "exceptions" for anyone the president doesn't want us to know about.

    That is not transparency.

    Bush did not run or promise transparency. Obama did. Huge difference.

    September 4, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. th

    Where were all of you who are complaining now about Obama when Bush and Cheney didn't release anything.

    Grow up will you.

    September 4, 2009 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. millwright

    This is the open policy he promised but only if the adminstration is sued. What is he hiding, maybe special interest...This isn't a lie it is a Obama half truth... just words...

    September 4, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. panem et circenses, but CNN won't post

    It's simple : release all logs going back to when they were first kept. No one, Republican or Democrat, should hide who is visiting the White House.

    September 4, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. Jo

    We need Bush Administration Logs for the past 8 years
    We should know Who Bush and Cheney had been meeting behind the closed door, We need to know all those lies that put USA economy into jeopardy.
    We need Bush and Cheney Logs to show the lies that had been going on for the last 8 years

    September 4, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  20. walleye

    I doubt that Bush/Cheney would have released these logs. That probably would make the USA less safe. HA.

    September 4, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Larry of Boston

    Not to be released are logs showing Oprah Winfrey, Revered Green, Malcolm X, and the girls from DC Escorts Ltd

    September 4, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  22. ImaLindatoo

    I'd really like to see Obama's secret meetings that happened b e f o r e the date he's willing to now discolse after a l a w s u i t was rquired to get THAT, like with Coal (ie giving 36 Mountain Top Removal) after campaigning aganst Mountain Top Removal (mtr)

    ...Big Pharma, Insurance, Hopsital Associations.

    ...wall street, financial...all his others that he refuses to disclose. T h a t what he was supposed to be open about is what I want to see.

    September 4, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  23. John

    There are two sides to this coin. If Obama releases his visitor logs, it makes it more difficult to create compromise with opposing parties.

    I think it's difficult for enemy countries to begin negotiations with the United States because they are constantly trying to portray an image to their home country. If private negotiations are no longer private, how can a serious and public negotiation ever come to fruitation?

    September 4, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. DeathPanels

    But when the cloud of rhetoric has passed.....when the roar of the crowd fades away.....when the stadium lights go out, and those Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled back to some studio lot.....When that happens, what is our opponent’s plan? What does he actually seek to accomplish, after he’s done turning back the waters and healing the planet?

    “The answer is to make government bigger.......
    “And take more of your money..........
    “To give you more orders from Washington...........
    “And reduce the strength of America in a dangerous world...........
    “America needs more energy...........our opponent is against producing it.

    Should have listened to Gov. Palin.

    September 4, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  25. valwayne

    Isn't this what everybody was upset about with Bush and Cheney? Where is the open and transparent Government Obama promised. What kind of corrupt deals is he making in the dark?

    September 4, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
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