Want to see who's dropping by 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.? Check the White House web site.
For the first time in history, the White House is planning to publish its visitor logs—a move the Obama administration called a sign of the president’s “commitment to an open and transparent government.”
Records of visitors from the previous 90-120 days will be published each month on the White House web site. The names of most visitors—for instance, those who come for appointments to take tours—will be released.
Some names will remain confidential. White House officials said in a statement that “a small group of appointments” cannot be disclosed because of national security reasons. Other names are "necessarily confidential," according to the White House. So of a potential Supreme Court nominee drops by, don’t expect to see the person’s name published.
“We will achieve our goal of making this administration the most open and transparent administration in history not only by opening the doors of the White House to more Americans, but by shining a light on the business conducted inside,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “Americans have a right to know whose voices are being heard in the policymaking process.”
The decision to release visitor logs resolves four ongoing court cases that were seeking access to White House visitor records. The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has agreed to dismiss pending litigation.
In defending against CREW’s suits to access records, the Bush administration claimed the documents were presidential records that are not subject to public disclosure. CREW also sued the Obama administration for its refusal to turn over visitor logs. The group wanted the names of health care and coal industry officials who had visited the White House.
“Today the Obama administration has proven its pledge to usher in a new era of government transparency was more than just a campaign promise,” CREW director Melanie Sloan said in a statement. “The Obama administration will have the most open White House in history.”