This administration, in light of all the spying, prying and nosing into our personal business...has now told us that it’s none of OUR business who comes and goes in the White House. Coming on the heels of our Decider-in-Chief’s newest signing statement that allows his minions to pour through our mail comes the news that the White House visitors list is now secret.
Yes my dear reader, the President has struck a deal with the secret service. Actually it was done back in the spring of last year, declaring that records identifying visitors to the White House are not open to the public.
Now, you might ask yourself, as I did…just what in the blue hell is so damn secret about who comes and goes in the White House. After all, the White House is the peoples house, is it not? We own that piece of property; not the President, not the Vice President..and certainly not the First Lady..correct? So what gives Bush the right to suddenly declare a list that the Secret Service has always kept on every single visitor that entered the White House now secret and not available to anyone by any means, including the Freedom of Information Act, or a Judge’s court ruling?
Two words will shed light on why this sudden move towards secrecy regarding something so simple as visitors to the White House:
The records of who comes and goes in the White House have always belonged under the auspices of the Secret Service. They were obtainable under the Freedom of Information Act. The Visitors Log was one of the key pieces of evidence used to fry Bill Clinton’s ass with regard to the Monica Lewinsky debacle. You remember Monica..its one of the right’s favorite subjects when you bring up Presidents who lie. Well, it seems our current resident of the oval office doesn’t want the Washington Post, or anyone else for that matter, to know who was coming or going at the White House. The memo that changed all this was quietly signed on May 17th of last year. As this piece of an MSNBC article published recently states:
“The five-page document dated May 17 declares that all entry and exit data on White House visitors belongs to the White House as presidential records rather than to the Secret Service as agency records. Therefore, the agreement states, the material is not subject to public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.”
This “memo” was issued shortly after a group requested records of White House visits by none other than…. Jack Abramoff. You remember Jack Abramoff, the man who is doing some serious time in prison for forging bank documents and will eventually serve time for being a crooked lobbyist. ” Anne Weismann, a Justice Department lawyer for 19 years and now chief counsel to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has said about the memo:
“It appears the White House is actually manufacturing evidence to further its own agenda”
Gee Ann, what was your first clue? Could it of been that the White House has been stonewalling any and all attempts to discover exactly how many visits Jackie A. made at the White House? Or perhaps it’s the House report that found 485 lobbying contacts with presidential aides over three years, including 10 with the republican’s favorite guru, Karl Rove.
And now this little memo sees the light of day. Would you like to know why? Because a judge has ordered the Secret Service to produce the visitor logs for Vice President Dick Cheney’s office. Three weeks ago one of the Shrub’s lawyers produced this little gem in an attempt to overturn the judge’s ruling.
See, if the visitor’s log belongs to the Secret Service, they can be subpoenaed and requested under the Freedom of Information Act. If they fall under “presidential records”..well, its at the Presidents discretion whether to allow them to made public. We all know how our current resident of the oval office feels about releasing information, don’t we? The less we know..the better off Bush and his buddies are!
The MSNBC article really jacked my jaw. It actually gave me heartburn because the Republicans used the hell out of the Secret Services Visitors Log to hang Bill Clinton not only during MonicaGate but also to bust Bill’s chops during the entire Whitewater fiasco, just to name a few of the times these logs have held “important information”.
If you would like to see this “Memorandum of Understanding” that changes who owns the Visitors Log you can view it here. TPMuckraker in fact, has a great article that shows us information that used to be available to citizens but under Bush, no longer is. I really love the title of the TPM article: “Bush Admin: What You Don't Know Can't Hurt Us”. Its interesting that Bush wants to stick his nose into every corner of my world, but keep many of government’s dealings secret.
Another little secret, according to the TPM article: “Department of Defense has suddenly classified the numbers of attacks in Iraq for September through November of this year -- after providing the figures for every month since the war began. Why classify the information now? If there's a good explanation, we don't know it, and the Pentagon isn't returning our calls.”-Why, one might ask..is classifying this info now as “secret” important and necessary? Must have some bad juju in there is my only thought.
But then we have these gems, also courtesy of the TPMuckraker:
In March, the administration announced it would no longer produce the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation, which identifies which programs best assist low-income families, while also tracking health insurance coverage and child support.
In 2005, after a government report showed an increase in terrorism around the world, the administration announced it would stop publishing its annual report on international terrorism.
After the Bureau of Labor Statistics uncovered discouraging data about factory closings in the U.S., the administration announced it would stop publishing information about factory closings.
When an annual report called “Budget Information for States” showed the federal government shortchanging states in the midst of fiscal crises, Bush’s Office of Management and Budget announced it was discontinuing the report, which some said was the only source for comprehensive data on state funding from the federal government.
When Bush’s Department of Education found that charter schools were underperforming, the administration said it would sharply cut back on the information it collects about charter schools.
In March 2006, the Department of Health and Human Services took down a six-year-old Web site devoted to substance abuse and treatment information for gays and lesbians, after members of the conservative Family Research Council complained.
The Department of Labor also removed from its Web site roughly two dozen fact sheets on women's workplace issues such as women in management, earning differences between men and women, child care concerns, and minority women in the workplace.
The list is long..very friggin long and I don’t have the space to post it all here..but if you wish to take a swig of Mylanta or eat a few Rolaids and peruse it all..be my guest. The bottom line, for me, is this:
Our government, under President Bush, treats us like mushrooms my dear reader. They keep us in the dark and feed us bullshit, or in some cases..refuses to feed us any information at all when it serves their purpose.