Skip to comments.Most Clinton records will be open to scrutiny - Whitewater, Lewinsky and Jones inquiries not waived
Posted on 02/03/2003 1:41:55 AM PST by MeekOneGOP
Most Clinton records will be open to scrutiny
He says freeing up presidential advice will better inform public
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Former President Bill Clinton has waived his right to restrict access to most records of confidential advice during his administration, opening the path for historians to study key decisions in the Clinton White House sooner rather than later.
The records include exchanges among top advisers, staff counsel to Mr. Clinton and advice from nonstaff members regarding domestic policy and appointments.
"I believe that the more information we can make available to scholars, historians and the general public, the better informed people will be about the formulation of public policy and the decision-making process at the White House," Mr. Clinton said in response to written questions from The Associated Press.
However, Mr. Clinton will not waive attorney-client privilege over personal issues such as Whitewater and the Monica Lewinsky and Paula Corbin Jones inquiries.
Under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, former presidents can withhold the release of records for at least five years and up to 12 years under certain criteria - and sometimes even longer if the documents are a matter of national security. Former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush have withheld most of their confidential advice documents under the 12-year exemption.
"Right now, it looks like more confidential advice [from the Clinton administration] will be open" earlier than any other modern president, said Nancy Kegan Smith, director of the Presidential Materials Staff for the National Archives.
Mr. Clinton and the National Archives have agreed to release most of his records of confidential advice as soon as they are processed, including information on federal appointments and policy decisions, said Bruce Lindsey, Mr. Clinton's legal representative for records and a longtime confidant of the former president.
Mr. Lindsey said that under the Presidential Records Act, President Bush retains veto power over the release of any Clinton records, but he doesn't expect Mr. Bush to object.
"I think the president [Mr. Clinton] believes that most of the decisions he made were in the national interest, that he made good decisions as president, and he's not embarrassed to have the process out there for people to see and make judgments about," Mr. Lindsey said.
The Presidential Records Act was passed during the Carter administration and went into effect in 1981. Before that, records were the property of the outgoing president, excluding Richard Nixon, whose materials were seized by the government after Watergate.
An executive order issued in November by the Bush administration extends the act, giving former presidents, vice presidents and the incumbent president veto power over release of their papers.
For a time last year, President Bush blocked the release of some 68,000 pages of Mr. Reagan's records, then issued the executive order. After a coalition of activists, historians and journalists sued, the White House approved release of the Reagan papers, which are much the same as the materials Mr. Clinton would like released before his presidential library opens in Little Rock next year.
Excluded from release will be personal information, inflammatory comments and issues of national security.
The act allows a former president to restrict access to certain records for up to 12 years under six criteria: federal appointments; statute exemptions; trade secrets and commercial and financial information; confidential advice; personnel and medical files; and national security, though some documents could be kept secret longer under executive privilege.
Documents set for release would include details on the North American Free Trade Agreement, welfare, appointments to the Supreme Court, economic policies, health care, the environment, AIDS issues and even details regarding the controversial last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.
Just a simple call to "Shredders R Us" first.
Warning! Handle with Gloves!
|FOB and FOFOB... the clinton friend files|
Except for, you know, the bad stuff.
Naahhh, too easy.
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