Thursday, February 08, 2007

More on the W Library

The Observer's Jim Schutze really nailed a forgotten (by me at least) aspect of the W Library flap -- Presidential Order 13233:

The first, most difficult piece of this is Presidential Order 13233, which effectively reverses the presumption underlying the 1978 Presidential Records Act of a basic public right of access. In asserting a contrary right of permanent privilege, George W. Bush pointedly expanded the reach of this new privilege to include the entire Bush dynasty—his father's papers not only as president, for example, but as vice president.

It's an outrageous reach. Scholars and archivists around the country are beginning to suggest that SMU makes a whore of itself if it accepts the presidential center without first insisting that 13233 be vacated.

Imagine future scholars trying to write the history of Iraq War and not even being able to have unfettered access to the President's papers? For a look at the right way to do it, look at the LBJ Library in Austin. Would Robert Caro have been able to produce his work without the type of access he was allowed to Johnson's archive? Now try to imagine a scholar who may have a less than deferential approach to W's legacy trying to access the archive of this current adminsitration? Keep moving, buster. Nothing to see here.

Still, I'm an optimist. This administration prefers to work in the shadows. They believe they can avoid unwanted scrutiny forever. History judges these men cruelly, and undoubtedly will again.

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