David Stout, New York Times: The Bush administration was dealt a setback on Friday in its efforts to keep records of White House visitors under wraps when an appeals court refused to throw out a lawsuit seeking access to the material.
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that it would be premature to consider reversal of a lower court ruling last December that the White House visitor logs were public records, and that the administration should stop withholding them from scrutiny by outside groups. ...
The appeals court conclusion arose from a ruling Dec. 17 by Federal District Judge Royce C. Lamberth in a suit brought by a left-leaning watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has been trying to determine how often several conservative religious leaders entered the White House during the Bush administration.
Judge Lamberth rejected administration arguments that the visitor records should be shielded under executive privilege. “Because the Secret Service creates, uses and relies on, and stores visitor records, they are under its control,” Judge Lamberth wrote. “Knowledge of these visitors would not disclose presidential communications or shine a light on the president’s or vice president’s policy deliberations.”
The appeals court said that “it is entirely possible that the government will never have to turn over a single document” because orf the possibility that the Secret Service might prevail under exemptions spelled out in the federal Freedom of Information Act. In any event, the appeals court said, the watchdog group’s request is narrowly drawn and should not create a burden for the Secret Service.
The White House had no immediate comment, and unless there is a final decision in the next six months, the issue will become academic, since President Bush will leave the White House in January. ...
LSB: Wow! Maybe now we'll find out who in the White House was hiring Republican male prostitute Guckert/Gannon for sleep overs!