Subcommittee Holds Hearing on The Presidential Records Act of 1978

March 1, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007
The House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee Holds Hearing on The Presidential Records Act of 1978

On Thursday, March 1, the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives held a hearing to examine issues relating to implementation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978, including the history of the act, the role of the National Archives and Records Administration in releasing Presidential records to the public, and the likely impact of Executive Order 13233 on research.

The following witnesses testified:

* Panel I: Harold Relyea, Ph.D., Congressional Research Service
* The Honorable Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States
* Panel II: Thomas Blanton, National Security Archive, George Washington University
* Scott Nelson, Public Citizen
* Robert Dallek, Ph.D., Author/Historian
* Anna K. Nelson, Ph.D., American University
* Steven L. Hensen, Society of American Archivists

Unfortunately, their testimony is not available, unlike yesterday’s hearing, perhaps because it was a subcommittee and not full committee hearing.

The web site also announces the introduction of two bills:

The Presidential Donations Reform Act of 2007

On March 1, 2007, Rep. Henry A. Waxman along with Reps. Duncan, Clay, Platts, and Emanuel introduced H.R. 154, the Presidential Library Donation Reform Act of 2007, to require the disclosure of donors to presidential libraries.

  • See the Bill Summary here.
  • Read the entire text of the bill here.

The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007

On March 1, 2007, Rep. Henry A. Waxman along with Reps. Platts, Clay, and Burton introduced H.R. 1255, the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007, to nullify a 2001 presidential executive order and restore public access to presidential records.

  • See the Bill Summary here.
  • Read the full text of the Bill here.

The Bush Library and Institute controversy in GWU’s Hatchet

March 1, 2007

Another student newspaper, the George Washington University Hatchet, examines the controversy. The article carefully notes that the faculty are primarily concerned about the lack of governance and the think tank, while Taylor Russ, the student body president, insists that SMU’s students are “passively supportive” of the complex. However, since the administration has provided no mechanism for student input, it is not surprising they feel apathetic about this process, which also tends to refute Mr. Russ’s claim that “most students support the library.”

Presidential politics on campus from D.C. to Dallas
Clayton McCleskey
George Washington University Hatchet
February 26, 2007

Defenders of the proposal have drawn connections between the proposed Bush Institute and the conservative Hoover Institution at Stanford University. However, the Hoover Institution reports to Stanford University, a distinction SMU President Gerald Turner drew in an open letter to the SMU community, in which he confirmed “the proposed Bush Institute would report to the Bush Foundation.”

This has formed the center of the debate – not general opposition to the library.

“President Bush is proposing something that is – as I understand it – unprecedented: an ideological or partisan think tank that is affiliated with the University, that gets to use the name, but is not controlled by the school,” said Steven Sverdlik, an associate professor of philosophy at SMU, in an interview with The Hatchet.

Sverdlik stressed that his opposition is not against the library or against President Bush – he is concerned about the issue of governance.

Continued here.

Call grows to do presidential library gifts by the book

March 1, 2007

Call grows to do presidential library gifts by the book
Todd J. Gillman
The Dallas Morning News
February 28, 2007

WASHINGTON – Congress turned its sights Wednesday on a loophole that has let presidents quietly raise millions from corporations and foreign governments, as a House committee moved toward mandatory disclosure of gifts to presidential libraries.

Critics of Southern Methodist University’s effort to land President Bush’s library have raised concerns about the lack of such a reporting requirement. And government ethics watchdogs had long worried about the ulterior motives – from pardons to federal contracts – behind some of the donations used to erect research centers and museums for former chief executives.

Continued here.