Open Up, Mr. President!
Inside Higher Ed
March 2, 2007
Legislation introduced in Congress Thursday would nullify an executive order signed by President Bush in 2001 limiting public access to presidential documents and greatly expanding the scope of executive privilege. Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) announced the bipartisan bill during a House of Representatives subcommittee hearing that featured widespread condemnation of the president’s action, not only for its perceived effect of restricting research and freezing the flow of public information, but also for its role in building back-ups at the presidential libraries.
The Presidential Records Act Amendment of 2007 would largely restore the 1978 Presidential Records Act to its form under President Reagan, limit executive privilege to current and former presidents, and set firm deadlines for the review of documents before their public release. A similar bill never made it out of Congress back in 2004.
“History is not partisan,” said Waxman, a sponsor of the bill and chair of the House’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, a subcommittee of which held the hearing on presidential records Thursday. “Historians and scholars need access to our nation’s history as it happened, not as a former president wished that it happened.”
Updated to correct the source! Thanks once more to Maarja Krusten.