FEBRUARY 29, 2008
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that Judicial Watch filed on February 27th a new brief in its lawsuit to obtain records related to the National Taskforce on Health Care Reform, a “cabinet-level” taskforce chaired by former First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton [Judicial Watch, Inc. v U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Civil Action No: 1:07-cv-07-1987 (PLF)]. The National Archives has asked the court for permission to delay the release of any records indefinitely (after the November presidential elections). Per the request of Bill Clinton, the earliest some of the records could be released is 2012.
“…More than seven years after taking possession of the records of former President William J. Clinton, and almost two years after receiving [Judicial Watch’s] FOIA request, the Clinton Presidential Library (“Library”), which Defendant controls, has not even begun processing [Judicial Watch’s] request,” Judicial Watch states in its brief. “…Instead, Defendant asks this Court to dismiss or stay this case despite Defendant’s admission that it wildly underestimated the public’s interest in the records, was woefully unprepared when it started receiving FOIA requests, and remains understaffed and entirely unable to comply with its statutory responsibilities…. At a minimum, Defendant’s motion to dismiss or stay this case should be denied.”
According to Clinton Presidential Library records, “The cabinet-level Task Force, chaired by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, was given primary responsibility for providing advice and making recommendations to the President regarding the national health care reform package.” A small category of Health Care Task Force-related documents have been released by the Clinton Presidential Library, but the records of the Health Care Task Force itself have not been disclosed.
The National Archives admitted in correspondence to Judicial Watch that there are approximately 3,022,030 textual records, 2,884 pages of electronic records, 1,021 photographs, 3 videotapes and 3 audiotapes that must be reviewed to respond to Judicial Watch’s April 4, 2006 FOIA request. Recently, Judicial Watch agreed to limit its FOIA request to the universe of 1 million responsive documents which include the Task Force staff files and internal documents. In addition, given the byzantine and arbitrary system the Archives has developed for responding to FOIA requests, Judicial Watch is also seeking court permission for limited discovery into the operation of the Clinton Presidential Library.
“The National Archives does not want to do what the law requires – make the Clinton records available to the public in a timely basis,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Virtually every public request for Clinton records has been stonewalled by the Clinton Presidential Library. This serves no interest but that of the Clinton campaign.”
In a separate lawsuit, Judicial Watch also seeks access to Hillary Clinton’s daily schedule, among other records. The Justice Department has confirmed that the National Archives completed its processing of these records and that they are now in the hands of former President Clinton’s representatives. Bill Clinton can authorize the release of these records at any time. A status report from the Archives on these and other records is due to the court on Monday, March 3.
To read Judicial Watch’s brief, click here.
February 28, 2008