Saturday, March 03, 2007
According to our stouthearted colleague Gordon at Alternate Brain, the wholly admirable Henry Waxman (D-CA), along with Reps. Platts, Clay, and Burton, has introduced H.R. 1255, a bill that would "restore public access to presidential records":
Under the Presidential Records Act, presidential records are supposed to be released to historians and the public 12 years after the end of a presidential administration. In November 2001, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order 13233 which overturned an executive order issued by President Reagan and gave current and former presidents and vice presidents broad authority to withhold presidential records or delay their release indefinitely. The Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 would nullify the Bush executive order and establish procedures to ensure the timely release of presidential records . . . .Mr. Bush took office just in time to prevent his father's Presidential records from becoming public. Will Mr. Waxman's legislation allow us to answer some of the lingering questions about the Iran-Contra affair that Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, through no fault of his own, left unanswered?
In an unprecedented step, the Bush executive order authorized former vice presidents to assert executive privilege claims over vice presidential records. The bill restores the long-standing understanding that the right to assert executive privilege over presidential records is a right held only by presidents.