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News Archive - Jan 2009

President Obama Announces Era of Openness

January 21, 2009: On his first day in office, President Obama signed an executive order and two presidential memos announcing a "new era of openness." See a story on the National Security Archive website. The executive order applies to the Presidential Records Act, reversing changes made by former President Bush which had allowed former presidents to prevent disclosure. One memo reaffirms the Freedom of Information Act, announcing that "All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure," countermanding a Bush-era policy of minimum disclosure. A separate presidential memo entitled "Transparency and Open Government" announces that the Obama administration is "committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government" and directs the Office of Management and Budget to coordinate the development within 120 days of an Open Government Directive.

Ted Kennedy Collapses at Inaugural Lunch

January 20, 2009: At a celebratory luncheon today on the U.S. Capitol following the inauguration of President Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy collapsed, apparently the victim of a seizure, according to stories on CNN and Time. Kennedy, who is 76, has had seizures recently associated with a malignant brain tumor.

9/11 Commission Papers Released

January 14, 2009: The National Archives today made available a substantial portion of the papers of the 9/11 Commission, according to a press release on the site of the National Archives. Some of these documents - Memos for the Record - are available online in PDF format, though most of the records must be accessed in person at the National Archives' facility in College Park, Maryland. According to the National Archives' website, these records comprise 35% of the complete textual records of the Commission; the other 65% remain sealed.

The National Archives website put online today an FAQ, a guide to the online MFR's, and a 145-page PDF finding aid to the full set of released records. These files do not include taped interviews or any other multimedia, which is still to be processed. See the Archive's main 9/11 Commission Records page for more information.

A brief perusal of the online MFRs reveals that a great many of them consist of one-page withdrawal notices, pending further review. The papers of the 9/11 Commission, which was created under the legislative branch of the federal government, are exempt from FOIA requests.

New Book: ''Family of Secrets''

January 7, 2009: Investigative journalist Russ Baker has written a new book entitled Family of Secrets about the Bush family, mainly George H.W. "Poppy" Bush. The book, whose source material citations include materials on the Mary Ferrell Foundation website, puts particular focus on Bush acquaintance and Oswald friend George DeMohrenschildt. New perspectives on the JFK assassination and the Watergate affair make this a unique book which connects these past events with the man whose son still occupies the White House for another two weeks.

As one example, a chapter entitled "Where Was Poppy?" describes the senior Bush's failures to recall where he was on November 22, 1963. Baker tells the odd story that Bush had in fact contacted the FBI that day from Tyler, Texas, to advise them that a man named James Parrott had talked of killing the President when he came to Houston. Baker brings in other sources to trace Bush's movements on that day, which apparently included borrowing a private plane from an oil-drilling tycoon named Joe Zeppa, and concludes that Bush was very likely in Dallas on the morning of the JFK assassination.

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