Bush Administration Loses Appeal on Visitor Records Lawsuit Filed by CREW
Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) successfully moved ahead in its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for public access to Secret Service records of top conservative religious leaders who have visited the White House or Vice President Cheney's residence. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision in CREW v. U.S. Dep’t of Homeland Security, dismissing the government’s appeal.
The district court rejected the administration’s argument that the records belong to the president, not the Secret Service, and are therefore not subject to the FOIA. Today’s opinion holds that the court does not have jurisdiction to resolve the government’s appeal because the district court has not ordered the government to release any records, simply to process CREW’s request.
The D.C. Circuit also resoundingly rejected the White House’s argument that requiring the government to process the request and invoke exemptions would place a constitutionally impermissible burden on the president or vice president. The court found that CREW’s request is “narrowly drawn” and that requiring the administration to rely on the FOIA’s exemptions to protect claims of executive privilege “is a routine occurrence, not a uniquely intrusive burden.” As a result of the court’s ruling, the Secret Service will now have to process CREW’s request.
Anne Weismann, CREW’s chief counsel, said, “We are pleased that the D.C. Circuit is requiring the government to provide these Secret Service records that the White House has been trying to hide from the public. The American people are entitled to know who has been influencing the White House.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact David Merchant at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org