George W. Bush’s Legacy Of Secrecy

Joseph Wheelan, with George Mason University’s History News Network, reminds us of a dangerous assault on open and honest government. It came in the form of George W. Bush’s Executive Order 13233: The Presidential Records Act Executive Order.

“…this is not just another blow against openness; Bush’s Executive Order 13233 could change history – literally – by restricting historians’ access to materials that help them document and ultimately judge a president’s actions, lapses, and principles.

Executive Order 13233 gives ex-presidents nearly unlimited discretionary authority to prohibit the release of their papers…”

The article goes on to describe the practical impact of this Order.

“Executive Order 13233 portends a day when spin, the currency of politics, may become the province, too, of presidential history. One can envision a future when a presidential library’s watchdogs would allow only “safe” historians to sift through the library’s holdings for material to cook up a bracingly whitewashed version of his subject’s actions. Objective historians, denied access to the panegyrist’s primary sources and all the juicy details, would be placed at a severe disadvantage. Which version do you think would get the seven-figure publishing advance and the lavish promotional campaign?”

This is not a new development. The Order was issued in November of 2001, shortly after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. It’s almost as if the still new Bush administration knew in advance that they would be engaging in nefarious activities that had to be covered up. In the intervening years, Bush has proven to be the most secrecy-obsessed president in U.S. history.

This being an election year, it is a good time to recall this stain on academic freedom and the public’s right to know the truth about it’s leaders and their actions. It would be nice to get the present crop of presidential aspirants to go on record as to whether they would revoke Executive Order 13233 if elected.


3 thoughts on “George W. Bush’s Legacy Of Secrecy

  1. Can a man’s legacy be drawn from an eight year period in time? What kind of a footprint has GWB left on the American people, or the world for that matter? Has he served his country well by protecting us from terrorism, or has a alienated America from the rest of the world. Has he acted as a Christian in his role as President of the United States, or has he misused the Bible as a means of procuring votes and evoking war? Was the rebuilding of Iraq set in motion years before the Twin Towers tragedy, or was this a rapid decision based on an emergent circumstance? I have tried to keep this debate as original as possible. That includes errors in grammar, punctuation and spelling. I have also tried to collect them in a somewhat chronological method in order to keep a level playing field. I have simply collected publicly posted comments of others from open sources.


    • Sounds like an interesting project. Good luck.

  2. [Deleted: OK – you are now officially spamming this site. Do not post this message again or I will delete all of your comments, ban you from the site, and forward your ID to a SPAM database.]

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