A Newsweek article reported that “National Archives documents obtained by NEWSWEEK and interviews with Archives officials indicate that the vast majority of the Clintons' health-care task-force records are still under lock and key in Little Rock -- and might stay that way for some time.” But the article did not report that approximately 10,000 pages of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's documents are already likely to become public in 2008 in addition to thousands of Clinton documents that have already been released.
A November 3 Newsweek article headlined “The Hillary Paper Chase: 3,022,030 to go” reported that “National Archives documents obtained by NEWSWEEK and interviews with Archives officials indicate that the vast majority of the Clintons' health-care task-force records are still under lock and key in Little Rock -- and might stay that way for some time.” But the article did not report that approximately 10,000 pages of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) documents are already likely to become public in 2008. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has stated that it estimates it will have processed approximately 10,000 pages of documents by the end of January in response to a demand by the organization Judicial Watch for “First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's calendar.” Under an executive order issued by President Bush in 2001 and a court decision, former President Bill Clinton would then have at least 30 days to object to the release of the documents. Politico senior political writer Ben Smith reported in a November 2 article that “according to a Clinton aide,” Bruce Lindsey, whom Clinton has designated to review presidential documents for him, has so far not “challenge[d] the release” of any documents designated for release by NARA. Additionally, a November 4 New York Times article reported that Lindsey “issued a lengthy statement on Friday evening [November 2] saying that, contrary to some news reports, Mr. Clinton had 'not asked that records related to communications with Senator Clinton be withheld,' and that Mr. Clinton had not blocked the release of any presidential documents.” Further, according to a post on the blog MyDD, Lindsey has stated that “over 1 million pages of the Clinton Administration records have already been released.”
According to the defendant's status report and processing schedule filed by NARA in a lawsuit by Judicial Watch seeking Hillary Clinton's “calendar to include but not limited to her daily office diary, schedule, day planner, telephone log book, and chronological files,” NARA “estimates that it will complete processing approximately 10,000 pages of daily schedule records potentially responsive to the request by the end of January 2008 to provide to Presidential representatives for their review.” Additionally, “NARA also represents that it intends to process the approximately 20,000 pages of telephone log books potentially responsive to the request as it arises under the current FOIA queue matrix system.” From NARA's court filing:
NARA estimates that it will complete processing approximately 10,000 pages of daily schedule records potentially responsive to the request by the end of January 2008 to provide to Presidential representatives for their review. (See Supplemental Decl. of Emily Robison in Support of Def.'s Status Report & Processing Sch. ( “Suppl. Decl.” ) ¶ ¶ 22, 23.)
NARA also represents that it intends to process the approximately 20,000 pages of telephone log books potentially responsive to the request as it arises under the current FOIA queue matrix system. Given the volume of records in the FOIA queues and the uncertainty about receiving the funding for additional requested resources that may be appropriated for the Library for FOIA processing, NARA cannot provide a date certain by which it will complete processing this portion of the request. NARA is exercising due diligence in processing the requests that preceded plaintiff's request, as detailed below, and will continue to process the requests in the orderly process for fair and efficient processing established by the Library. (See Suppl. Decl. ¶¶ 22, 23.)
Executive Order 13233, signed by President Bush on November 5, 2001, and titled “Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act,” states that a former president has the right to review any documents prior to their release to the public:
After receiving the records he requests, the former President shall review those records as expeditiously as possible, and for no longer than 90 days for requests that are not unduly burdensome. The Archivist shall not permit access to the records by a requester during this period of review or when requested by the former President to extend the time for review.
A federal district court struck down the 90-day deadline, ruling on October 1 that documents can be released in as little as 30 days, although the archivist of the United States has discretion to decide whether to extend the 30-day deadline.
However, Lindsey reportedly has not objected to the release of any documents. In addition to the Politico and Times articles, a post on the blog MyDD quotes Lindsey saying on November 2 that “Bill Clinton has not blocked the release of a single document from his Library.” According to the blog post, Lindsey also said: “The Archives is in the process of making records available as quickly as they can -- over 1 million pages of the Clinton Administration records have already been released, including Health Care Task Force records.”
Under Executive Order 13233, even if Lindsey does not object, President Bush also has the power to withhold these documents:
Concurrent with or after the former President's review of the records, the incumbent President or his designee may also review the records in question, or may utilize whatever other procedures the incumbent President deems appropriate to decide whether to concur in the former President's decision to request withholding of or authorize access to the records.
Thus, unless Lindsey or President Bush objects, the “approximately 10,000 daily schedule records” should be released in the first part of 2008, which was not mentioned in the Newsweek article.
The November 4 Newsweek article by Michael Isikoff, in its entirety:
During last week's Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton faced tough questions about why so many of her papers at her husband's presidential library in Little Rock, Ark., are still secret -- and her answers have only invited more questions. Clinton said during the debate that one chunk of records, from her days heading up her husband's health-care task force, had been released. “Now, all of the records, as far as I know, about what we did with health care, those are already available,” she said. But National Archives documents obtained by NEWSWEEK and interviews with Archives officials indicate that the vast majority of the Clintons' health-care task-force records are still under lock and key in Little Rock -- and might stay that way for some time.
In a letter last year responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative group Judicial Watch, Melissa Walker, supervisory archivist of the Clinton Presidential Library, wrote that archivists had identified 3,022,030 still-unreleased health-care documents, along with 2,884 e-mails and 1,021 photos covered by the group's request. Archives officials at the Clinton library have yet to process the Judicial Watch request or release the several million pages of task-force documents, including many key internal memos written by Mrs. Clinton and her advisers about how to restructure the health-care industry. This prompted the group to file a new lawsuit last week demanding their immediate disclosure. “This doesn't pass the giggle test,” said Christopher Farrell, the group's research director, about Clinton's statement that “all” of her health-care records had been released.
The Clinton White House publicly released 13,400 pages of documents regarding Hillary's related health-care “working group” to resolve a 1994 lawsuit. And Clinton campaign spokes-man Jay Carson says that as many as half a million health-care papers have now been disclosed, but he acknowledges that many others have yet to be cleared. “There are undoubtedly other documents related to health care in the hundred million pages” of unreleased records at the library, Carson said, but he added that Clinton's hands were tied because understaffed Archives officials had to review each and every FOIA request -- and handle all of them in order. “We don't control their process,” he said. “We're not holding anything up.”
At the debate, Mrs. Clinton rejected the idea that she could accelerate the process by encouraging her husband to lift restrictions he has placed on confidential communications with his wife on policy matters. “Well, that's not my decision to make,” she said. In 1994, according to another National Archives document obtained by NEWSWEEK, President Clinton formally designated both his wife and his close adviser Bruce Lindsey as co-representatives for control of his papers in the event of his death or disability. Lindsey now reviews all White House papers at the library before they are cleared for release; Hillary, Carson says, “has never been involved in the clearing process. Bruce is the designee.” But that has not stopped Clinton's principal rival, Sen. Barack Obama, from hitting the issue hard. In an interview with NEWSWEEK, he called Clinton's responses on the records issue “disingenuous.” “She can release these papers,” Obama said. “She can get them released soon.” Carson shot back that Obama “has formally abandoned the politics of hope and is running a negative campaign.”