Thursday, March 8, 2007

More on Access to Presidential Papers, Hearing Today

The New York Times picks up the story today on the battle over access to presidential papers, as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform prepares to take up new legislation on the issue. Today's story begins:

In December 1989, one month after the fall of the Berlin Wall, President George H. W. Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev met in Malta and, in the words of a Soviet spokesman, “buried the cold war at the bottom of the Mediterranean.”

The Russian transcript of that momentous summit was published in Moscow in 1993. Fourteen years later American historians are still waiting for their own government to release a transcript.

Now lawmakers and scholars are hoping to pry open the gateway to such archival documents by lifting what they say has been a major obstacle to historical research: a directive issued by the current Bush White House in 2001 that has severely slowed or prevented the release of important presidential papers.

“I visited the Bush library in 1999, expecting to be able to look at” the Malta transcript, said Thomas S. Blanton, executive director of an independent research institute called the National Security Archive at George Washington University. He filed a Freedom of Information Act request but said, “I still don’t have it, and there’s no telling when I will.”

The NY Times story is here. A previous LHB post on the executive order restricting access is here. Complete coverage of "The Presidential Records Act in Crisis," with links to testimony and new legislation, is on-line at the National Security Archive, here.

Out of the Jungle, which has followed the controversy over the George W. Bush Library, proposed at SMU, has a helpful post with links to earlier Presidential Records Acts, here.