June 24, 2009

Loophole allowed blocking visitor logs

Newsweek on what was behind last week's blocked visitor logs story:

After Obama's much-publicized Jan. 21 "transparency" memo, administration lawyers crafted a key directive implementing the new policy that contained a major loophole, according to FOIA experts.

But in a little-noticed passage, the Holder memo also said the new standard applies "if practicable" for cases involving "pending litigation." Dan Metcalfe, the former longtime chief of FOIA policy at Justice, says the passage and other "lawyerly hedges" means the Holder memo is now "astonishingly weaker" than the [former Attorney General Janet] Reno policy. (The visitor-log request falls in this category because of a pending Bush-era lawsuit for such records.) (Emphasis mine)

Question: if the pending Bush-era lawsuits were dropped, would the current administration stop their stonewalling and release the visitor logs?

Administration officials say the policy is under review. At this point, when I see some positive results I'll feel a bit more hopeful.

Five months in and the Obama Presidency has left plenty to be desired.