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U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Rules White House visitor logs off-limits to the America People

(Washington, DC)Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton issued a statement today in response to the ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which found that U.S. Secret Service’s White House visitor logs for people visiting the president’s office are not subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (Judicial Watch Inc. v. U.S. Secret Service (No. 11-5282)):

 

“A president that doesn’t want Americans, under law, to know who his visitors are is a president who doesn’t want to be accountable.  The appellate court decision punches another hole in the Freedom of Information Act, the law which allows Americans to know what their government is up to.  We are strongly considering an appeal.  The legal gymnastics in this unprecedented decision shows that President Obama is not the only one willing to rewrite laws without going through Congress. And this legal fight, in which President Obama is fighting tooth and nail against full disclosure under law of his White House visitors, further exposes his big lie that his administration is the most transparent in history. The silver lining is that at least the appellate court opened up the records of tens of thousands White House visits that Obama was trying to keep secret.”

 

 

 

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Washington, DC — August 17, 2011Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that a federal court ruled today against the Obama administration that Secret Service White House visitor logs are agency records that are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The decision was issued by U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell, an Obama appointee, in Judicial Watch v. U.S. Secret Service (No. 09-2312).In its lawsuit against the U.S. Secret Service, Judicial Watch asked the court to order the release of Secret Service logs of White House visitors from January 20, 2009, to August, 10, 2009. The Obama administration attempted to advance the erroneous claim that the visitor logs “are not agency records subject to the FOIA [Freedom of Information Act].” As Judicial Watch noted in its complaint filed on December 7, 2009, this claim “has been litigated and rejected repeatedly.” Despite White House misinformation to the contrary, tens of thousands of visitor logs are being withheld from disclosure by the Obama administration. These records are now subject to disclosure under FOIA.Judge Howell ruled that “the proper course of action by the Secret Service is duly to process [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA request, disclose all segregable, nonexempt records, and then assert specific FOIA exemptions for all records it seeks to withhold.” Currently, the White House releases visitor information at its own discretion, the timing and specifics of which, it insisted, was not subject to court review.“This is a major victory for open government and an embarrassing defeat for the Obama administration,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “This administration will now have to release all records of all visitors to the White House – or explain why White House visits should be kept secret under law. It is refreshing to see the court remind this this administration that the rule of law applies to it.”

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