The Secrecy Won't Stop on Jan. 21
Think we'll ever get anything close to a full airing of Bush Administration documents? Think again:
"There really is no practical way we know of for NARA to be assured that every document in paper or electronic form has been received from an agency," Dr. Allen Weinstein, the former Archivist of the United States, told Congress last year (pdf, at p. 136). "Nor can NARA police the records management practices of over 300 federal agencies to ensure that permanent records are not purposefully or unintentionally withheld from the National Archives. Federal agencies are expected to fulfill their statutory responsibilities."
"NARA must rely on the agency records officers, other agency officials, and a vigilant public and press to inform us of any such failure to act," he said.
As for presidential records in particular, Dr. Weinstein said "the incumbent President is solely responsible for ensuring that…components of the Executive Office of the President adhere to the records requirements set out in [the Presidential Records Act]." Although the President is supposed to obtain the written views of the Archivist prior to any proposed destruction of non-permanent records, "the final disposal authority rests with the incumbent president…regardless of the Archivist's views." […]
Vice President Richard B. Cheney recently argued (pdf, at p. 24) that "The Vice President alone may determine what constitutes vice presidential records or personal records, how his records will be created, maintained, managed and disposed, and are all actions that are committed to his discretion by law"