Thirty-two of the nation’s leading historians have sent letters to congressional leaders calling on them to stregthen the Presidential Records Act (PRA). The effort, led by the Center for American Progress Action Fund and joined by the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the National Coalition for History, notes that while the PRA requires the administration to preserve presidential records, “it fails to provide an effective means
of enforcing compliance with that requirement.” (View the letters here and here.)
This effort has taken on increased urgency as the Bush administration prepares to leave office and may be ready to expunge the record on its tenure. Bush has already repeatedly manipulated and rewritten open government laws in order to cover up his wrongdoings:
— The White House is “missing as many as 225 days of e-mail dating back to 2003 and there is little if any likelihood a recovery effort will be completed by the time the Bush administration leaves office.”
— In 2001, President Bush issued an executive order “allowing former presidents to review executive documents before they can be released.” Last year, however, a U.S. District Judge invalidated the order, ruling that former presidents would be able to “indefinitely” keep their documents secret.
CAPAF Senior Fellow Mark Agrast told ThinkProgress that although the “prospects for legislative action during the remainder of the 110th Congress are not promising, we felt it was important to lay down a marker for the next Congress and the incoming administration before this Congress adjourns.”
CREW and several historian organizations are also filing a separate lawsuit today, “asking a federal judge to declare that Cheney’s records are covered by the Presidential Records Act of 1978 and cannot be destroyed, taken or withheld without proper review.”