NOVEMBER 02, 2009
Forced by a legal settlement to disclose White House visitors, the Obama Administration has reluctantly revealed a smidgen of the high-dollar fundraisers, lobbyists and celebrities who have visited the executive mansion and disputed the identities of various controversial figures.
Never the less, the administration is shamelessly touting the publication of its selective visitor list as “transparency like you’ve never seen before” even though it includes only 110 names out of the hundreds of thousands who have been to the White House since Obama moved in. The list includes executives of bailed-out banks, Washington’s biggest Democratic lobbyists, renowned civil rights leaders, famous athletes, Hollywood stars and major donors.
Obama warns that familiar names that appear on the list are not who you think they are. For instance, a William Ayers who visited the White House is not the domestic terrorist and one-time fugitive who has long supported and bankrolled Obama’s political career. The president supposedly severed ties with the Vietnam-era radical who admitted planting bombs on the Capitol, Pentagon and other government buildings when the close friendship created a public relations nightmare during the presidential election.
The Jeremiah Wright on the heavily redacted list isn’t the incendiary, race-bating pastor who blames the U.S. for causing the 2001 terrorist attacks and damns America for treating blacks less than human. That controversial figure has known Obama for years, conducted his marriage ceremony, baptized his daughters and served as a presidential campaign and spiritual advisor but he has not stepped foot in the White House. That was another Jeremiah Wright, according to the president’s people.
Obama released the names to settle the public records requests of various groups, including Judicial Watch. The administration claims the records are not public and therefore not subject to the Freedom of Information Act even though a federal judge has twice ruled that all White House visitor logs are indeed public. To appease the groups, Obama is releasing a tiny fraction of the visitors but will keep secret logs from his first eight months in office.
Regardless, the administration is brazenly hailing the partial disclosure as a major milestone in government transparency and the latest in a series of unprecedented steps by the president to increase openness in government.
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