Bad court ruling on White House visitor records


In the file "It's Quite A Life I've Carved Out For Myself" I spent part of the long weekend reading through the unfortunate decision of the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia made public just before the Labor Day weekend. The ruling allows President Obama and his successors to keep secret the names of individual visiting the White house.

The case was brought by Judicial Watch, a government watchdog nonprofit, that sought visitor logs under the Freedom of Information Act. 

You can see a full story on the decision here from the Washington Examiner, which in part reads: "The court said the president has such a prerogative because he is not covered by the FOIA and because of 'special policy considerations' that allow exemption of visitor logs from classification as agency records subject to release under the public records law."

It's a bad ruling from a media standpoint and, more importantly, from a public accountability standpoint. It proved once again that the Obama Administration is far from the most "transparent" administration in history. It's one of the worst.

Anyway, back to that "Quite A Life" file. In reading court cases, it's not enough to just look at the decision. You must also look at the back-up material that lays the foundation for both sides. In this case, the back-up involves the legal standing of the Secret Service to protect the president. And there you find this arcane tidbit:

"In 1951, the year after two men attempted to assassinate 
President Truman just across the street from the White House, 
Congress permanently authorized the Secret Service to protect 
the President and Vice President.  See Pub. L. No. 82-79, § 4, 65 
Stat. 121, 122 (1951) (codified at 18 U.S.C. § 3056(a)).  Upon 
signing the legislation, Truman reportedly remarked:  'Well, it 
is wonderful to know that the work of protecting me has at last 
become legal.'” 

That tickled me and reminded me how interesting and good a president Harry Truman was.

PS: Nevertheless, this ruling is a bad one. The American people have a right to know who visits the White House.

PPS: The ruling also comes at a bad time for those trying to connect the dots between the IRS targeting of conservative groups and direction from the White House. How convenient of a cover is this ruling?