Politico.com reports that Friday the Justice Department filed a notice of appeal regarding a 2-month-old U.S. District Court ruling that White House visitor records are subject to the Freedom of Information Act.
Judge Beryl Howell had ruled that with the usual exceptions for national security and privacy, the data must be made public.
At issue are the logs for the period ending Sept. 14, 2009. The day after that the White House implemented a policy of voluntarily releasing the names of visitors. Much of the sensitivity regarding the early period stems from President Obama’s unkept transparency promises, particularly regarding the runup to the health care legislation now commonly referred to as ObamaCare:
* “When there’s a bill that ends up on my desk as President, you the public will have five days to look online and find out what’s in it before I sign it, so that you know what your government’s doing.” – New York Times. Several months into the current administration, the White House began taking the position that posting a link to a Congressional site while the bill is being considered fulfills that pledge, but the differences between what is considered and what is passed and then signed are often substantial.
* “We’ll have the negotiations televised on C-SPAN, so that people can see who is making arguments on behalf of their constituents, and who are making arguments on behalf of the drug companies or the insurance companies.” – Breitbart.com.
Also, see this video, which is presented not for its partisanship, but because candidate Obama is captured time and again promising open negotiations on health care, something that never materialized. Some negotiations almost certainly occurred in closed door meetings during the period which the White House wishes to shield from the FOIA.
If the administration loses this appeal then the logs will have to be made public. If there are to be embarrassments caused by the appearance of names related to health care, they will occur at a time that is much worse politically for President Obama and the Democrats than the fall of 2009 would have been.