Court Rules White House Visitor Log Exempt From Freedom Of Information Requests

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A three-judge panel for the Washington, D.C. Judicial Circuit has issued a summary judgment that the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) does not apply to requests for Secret Service logs that track recent visitors to the White House.

Ruling Friday on a motion filed by nonprofit advocacy group Judicial Watch, Judge Merrick Garland opined that Congress had never intended FOIA to the movements of the President, because it “could substantially affect the President’s ability to meet confidentially with foreign leaders, agency officials, or members of the public,” and “could render FOIA a potentially serious congressional intrusion into the conduct of the president’s daily operations.”

The White House voluntarily disclosed the scheduled comings and goings of former IRS Commissioner Douglas Schulman after the IRS-Tea Party targeting scandal broke earlier this year, but more recently has refused to confirm whether IRS chief counsel (and political appointee) William Wilkins had visited the White House in April of 2012, only days before helping shape the discriminatory guidelines that have since come to define the scandal. Visitor logs from 2012 indicate that he did.

The Washington, D.C. Circuit ruled that records of White House visits fall not under FOIA, but the more-secretive Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978. The ruling came after the Secret Service denied a  Judicial Watch request for “all official visitors logs and/or other records concerning visits made to the White House” over the course of seven months, according to a Courthouse News report.

The Secret Service maintained that the White House’s voluntary disclosure policy would eventually kick in, making visitor records available 90 to 120 days after the visits had taken place. But Judicial Watch motioned for a court to force the Secret Service to comply under FOIA, which the D.C. Court denied.

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Robbie

    It’s called the Secret Service for a reason.

  • FreedomFighter

    Obama and his “transparent” administration policy…it seems transparent means something different now that they have been caught screwing Americans over with the IRS, NSA surveillance — don’t want you the American people putting all the pieces together by knowing who the Oblamer is giving orders to.
    Laus Deo
    Semper FI

    • Karolyn

      This has nothing to do with Obama; it’s a Federal Court ruling. It wouldn’t matter who is President.

      • Nadzieja Batki

        It has everything to do with O. If it didn’t matter who was President why is it not one of them suggested such a ruling. Apparently some unsavory characters have passed through the WH doors and O must not let anyone know who they were.
        You mocked the commenters who wrote of this incident and now you are rationalizing.

      • billybob

        What country are a freedom fighter for?? Federal judges get their marching orders from the politicians who control them. It matter greatly who is the president. Appointments are given out as rewards for helping out the politican party, not for the judges knowledge or smarts.

        • Karolyn

          Two of the ruling judges were appointed by Reagan and one by Clinton.

      • Robert Messmer

        Has any other President refused to release the Visitor’s Log? If not, then yes it is about Obama.

  • dan

    BS….it’s the Peoples White House not the pResidents. He’s a guest and lodger on OUR dime and the Secretive Service Buffoons work for US , not him. The judges should really consider who they’re working for ,too.

    • billybob

      They do!!! They work for the party that put them into power.

      • dan

        sigh…..

      • Karolyn

        Well, 2 of these were appointed by Reagan.

  • Karolyn

    it does say the records will be released I 90 tp 120 days. There are reasons for this. Some things need to be kept quiet, although many think we should know everything.

    • billybob

      Ya like where is Obama golfing today!

    • Robert Messmer

      Right the same vital National Security reasons that compel us to bomb Syria. Cast your memory back to Obama’s campaign..back back take your memory back to the campaign. Remember the candidate Senator Obama campaigning and saying, “We need more transparency in the government and if I am elected I will have the most transparent administration possible.” He was elected–transparency however has been arrested (Manning) chased out of the country (Snowden) and stonewalled by this decision. Really – a Visitor’s Log is classified?????

  • charlie

    appeal–appeal-appeal–appeal

  • billybob

    Your first premise is wrong. They don’t work for you, they work for themselves. You assume they work for you! Secondly it isn’t the transparancy or lack of it that is the problem, it is the plan to take away your freedom. It won’t be long before your ability to write your opinion on this or any other web site will be against the laws. If you opposed the government, you will be considered an enemy of the people. It has happened before and it is happening now here in the US. Back then it was Hitler, Stalin, Japan’s ruling class and others. The Supreme court is made up of politically appointed lawyers. Not all have to be lawyers, but most are. Those who are in power want these people to rule in their favor. Much like the King of England did when the Pope was more powerful than the king, So he created his own religion and made himself the pope. When there is no threat of losing the power, it embolds you to do even more crazy stuff, because no one is a threat your crazyness. This is becoming more apparent with Obama. His legacy will go down as the most bizzare in world history. An illegal from Kenya, who used his foreign status from Indonesia to go to school here in the US and get his education, then steals a dead persons ID in the form of a social security card, then changes his name, runs for congress, then for the white house and become the president of the United States. If it sounds like a fairy tale it isn’t! That is the scary part. It is real !!! It really did happen! No one is going to wake up from a bad dream and say it was just a dream!

  • dan

    If they didn’t have something to hide…..they wouldn’t mind us seeing

  • Laura

    i’m getting so sick of that man thats in th W/H, I wish bad things on him and i shouldn’t but there’s a limit and by golly i’m there

  • wandamurline

    This needs to be appealed.

  • ibn insha

    Who are judges? They are government employees. Thus their motives and intelligence is questionable. The more government wants to be secretive less credibility it has and is detrimental to our freedoms.

  • one of the people

    records should be available on demand as it was justifiable to conduct and investigation of improper conduct, to the proper authority.