Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bye Bye, E.O. 13233

President Obama (isn't that a great phrase?) couldn't possibly have gotten off to a better start with the library/archives/history community than he has. One of his first acts as president was to revoke Bush's Executive Order 13233, replacing it with a new Executive Order governing the disposition of presidential and vice presidential papers. Obama's order effectively restores the language of Reagan's 1989 Executive Order 12667, but explicitly covers "Vice Presidential records" and guarantees no endless delays in declassification by mandating that a president or former president requesting a delay provide "a time certain and ... reason for the extension of time." It also prohibits the heirs of former presidents from asserting privilege over documents, limiting that power to living former presidents.

In a press release, the administration said "This order ends the practice of having others besides the president assert executive privilege for records after an administration ends. Now, only the president will have that power, limiting its potential for abuse. And the order also requires the attorney general and the White House counsel to review claims of executive privilege about covered records to make sure those claims are fully warranted by the Constitution."

A good move.

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