George W. Bush Orders Early Release of White House Records

Monday, 21 Apr 2014 12:54 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Former President George W. Bush, once notorious for the veil of secrecy surrounding his tenure in the White House, has cleared volumes of official presidential documents to be released to the public earlier than expected.

Two years after he left office, Bush directed the National Archives to release records relating to factual memos and reports, talking points on policy decisions, scheduling files, and recommendations about what legislation to sign, according to Politico.

The files, obtained by Politico under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), could become public sooner than documents related to the presidency of Bush’s predecessor, Bill Clinton.

Bush’s directive, which had not previously been disclosed, appears to contrast starkly with the days from 2001 to 2009 when his administration went to the U.S. Supreme Court in a fight to keep a lid on the results of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force.

The Bush White House also reversed a measure passed during the Clinton presidency supporting disclosure in FOIA cases.

But Bush’s directive showed that he’s not afraid any embarrassing information will come out with the release of the documents, according to Politico. On the other hand, Politico noted that Clinton’s instructions for his White House records led to 33,000 pages being held back for a dozen years after he left office.

Last week, the latest batch of documents of 7,300 pages from Clinton’s era released by his presidential library revealed that Vice President Joe Biden was not a supporter of Hillary Clinton’s universal healthcare plan, which she had hoped would be her legacy as first lady.

Towson University political science professor Martha Kumar, who studies White House operations, praised Bush for his transparency and openness by freeing up his official records early.

"He left the presidency very comfortable with his record," Kumar said. "I think that’ll carry through into the release of information from it. I think he believes his actions were justified and that the records will demonstrate that."

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