Daily Letters

A selection of letters received.


June 07, 2004

What will be in your Presidential Library?

Dear George:

When I took a tour of Lyndon Bains Johnson's Presidential library in Austin, Texas, I was awed. Here was a man who grew up in rural poverty, who devoted his life to the education of the poor, who created the G.I. Bill, and who supported civil rights at it's most precarious. All his papers, memos, tapes, even his pens are on display. What awed me was what else was included in the exhibit. Ballot-stuffing, hippie protests, tragic footage from Viet-Nam. Like the man or not, his life is laid out for all to see and for anyone to scrutinize, the good with the bad.

I understand from my research that you have opted for secrecy where Johnson espoused openness.

On November, 1, 2001, you signed Executive Order 13,233, entitled "Further Implementation of the Presidential Records Act." In the words of Charles Lewis and the Center for Public Integrity on page 213:

"In truth, the executive order actually overrides the 1978 Presidential Records Act, the Watergate-inspired edict which stipulated that the papers of presidents and vice presidents would be made available to the public 12 years after they leave office. Under Bush's plan, however, former presidents or their heirs may veto the release of their presidential papers, as may the sitting president..." The comments of Steven Hensen, president of the Society of American Archivists, were typical. Writing in the Washington Post, he asked: "How can a democratic people have confidence in elected officials who hide the records of their actions from public view?"

What will be in your library at Texas A & M University, George? What won't be in your library?

The act of commiting secrecy while retaining the highest public position in this, an open decomocracy, is enough to convict you of incompetence. That you have not yet broken America is a testimate to our country's powerful ability to adapt to any threat - even the one you present.

History will judge you, Mr. President.

Age 30
New York


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