Obama Opens up Presidential Records; Some Conservatives Forget History

Posted by Mike Merritt in Politics on

The article was originally posted at Poligazette.

As Michael noted earlier today, President Barack Obama issued an Executive Order on Wednesday the essentially revoked Executive Order 13233, written by former President George W. Bush in November 2001. 13233 is particularly notable as it essentially made the incumbent president the just about nearly the only decision maker on access to records of former presidents, whereas in the order it replaced, 12667, it was more of a team effort involving the Attorney General, as well as the Counsel to the President, and other agencies.  It also extended Executive privilege claims and review of former records by the incumbent president to former Vice Presidents.

One can see why this would be a problem, of course.  While there are legitimate reasons for Executive privledge (national security and the like, but perhaps others), giving near unlimited control of review to one person means that that one person can decide to keep away a record that may not affect national security, but may be simply embarassing.  Perhaps details of a scandal from a former administation that never gained public light.  Could be anything, really.

The point is that this kind of control over records doesn’t speak much to transparancy in government.  Admittedly the other actors in 12667 still serve at the pleasure of the president, but having multiple people who do reviewing the feasibility of releasing a record is better than just one.  Anyway, I was looking around the blogosphere on the response to this action.

Ed Morrissey at Hot Air thinks it’s a good move.  Some of his commenters?  Not so much.  But I think they forget their history.  Lets take a look at some of the opposers (emphasis mine):

Maybe he did this so leftists could plow thru Bush’s records in an attempt to find ammo for prosecution. I simply have a hard time believing Obama had some kind of altruistic intent here. […]

This only applies to former presidents and not Obama and can be recinded before he leaves office by another executive order or by the loopholes in how he wrote this one. Keep in mind openness and Obama don’t have any sort of relationship as he has kept. […]

Bull Sh!t. this was done to dredge dirt on the Bush admin. It will be closed up again before The One leaves office. I see more and more people are drinking the Kool-Aid and seeing the unicorns and rainbows. The cult is spreading….

Fun, are they not?  Obviously, this was done by Obama so Bush’s records could be plundered.  And note my emphasis in the second quote as we continue.  Be fearful because Obama is going to use whatever holes are in this order to get out of it.  Sneaky, that one is.

You need to not worry, though.  Not all the hyperbole is done by the far right.  Liberals too are shouting out, though for different reasons.  Obama has saved the world, you see.  He’s created this order to bring back peace, justice, fairies, and Falkor the Luckdragon.  Just look at this praise.

Now to the juicy part and the problem for both left and right alike.  Obama didn’t create this Executive Order! Or at least not all of it.  The new order is by and large reinstating 12667 which was created by (drum roll, please)…

RONALD REAGAN!

You know.  The 40th president.  The guy before Bush the Elder.  Politely asked Gorbachev to tear down some wall in Eastern Germany.  Yea, that Ronald Reagan.  I’ve read both orders, and except for a reformulated Section 5 and a new Section 6 revoking 13233, the new order is practically verbatim to Reagan’s.  I read quickly but that’s what I saw.  A closer inspection would probably show the copy and paste job that it is.

So, conservatives, you can’t blame Obama for this one.  You need to look back further first.  Liberals, you can perhaps thank Obama for reinstating what is a better order, but he didn’t pull off a masterpiece here.  Probably took him (or his staff) a short amount of time to draw up given that most of the material was already there.

So can we stop with all the hyperbole and hyperventilating on this, please?  Besides, Bush’s records won’t be available for at least five years.  There could be a different president by then.

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