As we’ve written before, President Barack Obama failed in many respects to live up to his promise to have the most transparent administration in history. But one breakthrough policy he did adopt was releasing the logs of White House visitors even as his administration fought to keep some of the information secret — and won. But that’s about to end. The White House announced Friday that it would no longer be releasing the logs of visitors, claiming to do otherwise would jeopardize national security. According to Mike Dubke, the White House communications director, the visitor logs will be kept under wraps because of “the grave national security risks and privacy concerns of the hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.”
But advocates of government openness are calling it what it is — hokum. Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, noted that the Obama policy already names to be concealed in cases where national security was at risk.
President Donald Trump promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington. But this is a way to further conceal what he’s doing and, more important, with whom he’s meeting. This includes lobbyists, donors and others who may be trying to influence national policy.
The White House also said it has severed its contract with open.whitehouse.gov, the website that posts visitor log information as well as financial disclosure forms and information about salaries of White House employees. On Monday, visitors to the site were told that it “is being updated.” Don’t count on it.