Drew, on Dec 5 2003, 10:11 PM, said:
And I want to know what's in all the sealed records of all the other governors throughout the country!
But what makes this story so amazing is not just the nationwide negative press of Dean’s sealing of some records that is so commonplace and normal among governors, it’s that the stunning lengths Bush has gone to conceal his own records – with nearly zero coverage from the national media – have long since gone far beyond the bounds of normal gubernatorial record sealing like that engaged in by Dean.
As an article last month in the Austin Chronicle put it:
One of the many issues on which President George W. Bush and Gov. Rick Perry see eye to eye is open records. Both men seem to have a gut instinct against public disclosure of the operations of government. And if they succeed in their ongoing attempts to restrict access to public records in Texas, they will have undermined a law that, 30 years after its enactment, advocates often describe as one of the best open records laws in the U.S.
NOTE: the picture of Bush’s records – still shrinkwrapped on pallets at the Texas State Library. What’s going on here, you ask? Read on, for we have quite a story to tell.
When W left office, he shipped *all* his records (in contrast to Dean’s limited %) to H.W.’s presidential library on the Texas A&M campus in College Station – which had the result of making them totally inaccessible to the public. No staff was provided to catalogue the records and, since they were physically located in a President Library -- a federal facility -- they were subject to federal, rather than Texas, public record access law. Sneaky sneaky.
What advantage was there from these federal laws? As Howard Dean himself pointed out on Good Morning America
President Bush sort of takes the cake for his sealing. He actually had his sent, as I understand it, to his father's presidential library, where there's a 50-year seal.
As you might imagine, this sealing of all records made people unhappy:
So the good and decent people of TX had to resort to filing legal complaints help to gain access to W’s secret files. Finally, the TX attorney general ruled that the TX gubernatorial records must be shipped to the state archive for cataloguing.
<-- And there was much rejoicing in TX!
So after the years had passed, and legal authorities intervened, W’s “secret files” finally moseyed their way to Austin in August 2002. Cataloguing will apparently take 3 years – amazing coincidence how that timeframe takes us beyond the 2004 election, eh? Then the records will be shipped back to H.W.’s presidential library. But the media keeps telling us that that Bush’s records are accessible under TX’s FIA right?
Bush's gubernatorial records can be [now] reviewed by filing a request under the state's Freedom of Information Act, LaPlante says. But some documents or parts of documents are protected from disclosure under claims of executive privilege or because of other factors. In disputed cases, the Texas attorney general rules on whether records can be released.
So there are still “secret files” that won’t be disclosed. “Executive Privilege” and all… And requests for access to the rest are subject to “review.” And even if the request is granted, Bush can still dispute their release. Hmm… but didn’t the New York Times and the rest of the national media insist they were available for viewing?
The New York Times’ Jodi Wilgoren reported that “Mr. Bush’s Texas records were moved back to state custody after a ruling from the attorney general, and an archivist for the state said the Bush records were available for viewing.”
Archivist LaPlante called the above statement in the Times story “deceiving.” While the Bush records are officially “viewable,” said LaPlante, actually viewing them is another matter.
“They’re technically accessible,” said LaPlante, “but you might not get everything you ask for, even if we can find it.”
<-- Texans and Americans dejected.
Yes, I suppose that whole not-having-been-catalogued-yet and still sealed in shrinkwrap business tends to get in the way of people finding things. If only Dean were the son of a President too, he could have taken the same route. Of course, that assumes he’d be willing to do so – which is a matter for conjecture. One thing is for certain though, it’s a strategy that apparently gets you a guaranteed free pass from the “liberal” media.
P.S. Additional Source: W.'s Paper Chase
(Austin Chronicle story from 2001, includes funny cartoon of Bush scooping up papers and running.