Ed Driscoll

Its Origin and Purpose, Still a Total Mystery

As Jim Geraghty has said, even before President Obama took office, all of his campaign promises come with expiration dates. Not the least of which was this one, as reported by CNN, the Wright-Free Zone itself, back on January 21st, 2009:

Promising “a new era of openness in our country,” President Obama signed executive orders Wednesday relating to ethics guidelines for staff members of his administration.

“Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” Obama said.

Wait, why are you laughing all of a sudden? Perhaps because you’ve already read Bryan Preston’s post at the Tatler this morning: “Democrats Introduce Bill to Seal Up Obama’s Presidential Records,” which links to a Judicial Watch item on “the Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2011,” introduced by Rep. Edolphous Towns (D-NY):

In an obvious effort to protect President Barack Obama, a group of congressional Democrats has introduced legislation to create an official process that will allow the commander-in-chief to keep presidential records secret after he leaves office.

Ironically, Obama revoked a similar George W. Bush order in one of his first official acts as president. In 2001 Bush penned an executive order severely limiting public access to his presidential records. Shortly after swearing in, Obama killed it as part of his much-ballyhooed commitment to government transparency. At the time, the new president claimed that he was giving the American people greater access to “historic documents.”

If the Democrats’ proposed measure (Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2011) becomes law, former presidents will be allowed to assert a new “constitutionally based privilege” against disclosing records of their liking. Here is how it would work; the Archivist of the United States would be required to notify the former president, as well as the incumbent, of intentions to make records public. Anything that either the former or current president claims should be kept private won’t be released.

The veteran Brooklyn congressman (Edolphus Towns) who recently introduced the law in the U.S. House has yet to explain why it’s necessary.

Gee, I don’t know. I can think of a few reasons why, can’t you?

As Bryan adds, “This looks like a sign of surrender to me. Why seal up Obama’s records now, if you think he’s strong [enough] to get re-elected next year?”

Why, indeed?